WAMU ends weekend bluegrass, bets that music fans will embrace HD Radio service

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WAMU in Washington, D.C., announced that it is dropping all bluegrass programming from its weekend schedule and replacing long-running music shows with news/talk programming. The station will invest in upgrades to its HD Radio service, WAMU Bluegrass Country, by adding digital multicasts of live-hosted music programs on 88.5-2. It also will give away 1,000 HD Radios to listeners who contributed to its bluegrass programming within the past year. A third digital channel will combine news programming from the BBC and music from Triple-A outlet WTMD in Towson, Md. (All three schedules are posted here.) WAMU once broadcast more than 20 hours a week of bluegrass and other acoustic music programming, according to according to the Washington Post‘s Marc Fisher, who reports on the changes today on his blog. Six years ago, the station launched bluegrasscountry.org–its first digital service for bluegrass fans–as an online-only, 24-hour streaming service, but Fisher reports that the audience for music broadcasts on its flagship channel is much larger than that of the Internet service.