WKCC’s Friends of the Blues show to go national

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The African-American Public Radio Consortium has added a new music show to its line-up of nationally distributed programs. Beginning in mid-March, WKCC in Kankakee, Ill. will syndicate a two-hour version of Friends of the Blues show  co-hosted by volunteer programmers D’Arcy “Shuffle Shoes” Ballinger and James “Dr. Skyy Dobro” Walker.

The program is offered free to AAPRC through the PRSS ContentDepot.

WKCC began exploring a distribution partnership with APPRC after the Public Radio Super Regional conference last November, said Mike Savage, g.m.  “There was a big push for collaboration and I thought, ‘Instead of contacting stations individually maybe I should look for a group that can reach out to many stations,” Savage said. “AAPRC is a perfect fit and they happened to be looking for a blues show.”

WKCC is licensed to Kankakee Community College and serves Kankakee , a city about 50 miles south of Chicago. It broadcasts  NPR, APM and PRI programming in addition to blues, classical and jazz music.

Putting Friends of the Blues into national syndication will be a nice point of pride for a community that has taken hits to its civic image, Savage said. After the city was included on a “Worst Places to Live” list in the late 1990s, late night host David Letterman made Kankakee the butt of a joke that played out on national television. He sent the city a pair of gazebos in a gag to jumpstart the area’s tourism as the “Home of the Twin Gazebos.”

The station won’t be making money off the distribution offer, Savage said.“The volunteers are doing it because they love the blues, and this is about promoting the show and the community all over the U.S.”

The show offered in syndication will be two hours shorter than the version airing on WKCC each Saturday.

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