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Bluegrass broadcaster Ray Davis to retire after 65 years in radio

Legendary music host bids farewell to broadcasting

After 65 years in the radio business, Ray Davis, host of The Ray Davis Show on WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, announced today he would step back from the demands of his broadcasts to enter into retirement.

Guest hosts will fill his slot until a new program is announced.

“Ray Davis has shared his love for bluegrass with listeners for decades, and I am grateful for the important role he has played in keeping this important American music alive on our airwaves,” said WAMU 88.5 General Manager Caryn G. Mathes. “After a stellar 65-year career, I will miss his big, familiar voice on Sunday mornings and throughout the week.”

Davis joined WAMU 88.5 in 1985 as the host of Saturday Bluegrass. Until 2001, he shared hosting duties for the weekday afternoon program called Bluegrass Country.

He began his career in broadcasting at the age of 15 at WDOV-AM in Dover, Del. For 38 years, he hosted a popular bluegrass program from WBMD in Baltimore. Davis also did short stints working at small-town stations across the country and at XERF, in Mexico, where he learned to be a radio pitchman.

In 1962, Davis began recording top bluegrass musicians and selling the recordings under his Wango record label. For decades, he continued producing recordings of performances in the form of his much-beloved “basement tapes,” put together in his basement studio in Falling Water, W. Va., and including rare unreleased gems from noted musicians like Carter and Ralph Stanley, Don Reno, Bill Harrell and many others.

Throughout the course of his career, Davis built a reputation as a broadcaster with a deep, encyclopedic knowledge of the music and artists he played. He also became a fixture on the festival circuit, hosting events such as the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival and the Arcadia Music Festival.

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