After an 18-month absence, Katie Laur and Oakley Scot will resume Music From The Hills Of Home on radio starting Sunday, Aug. 26.
Laur's popular bluegrass show vanished after 27-and-a-half years in March 2017, when Northern Kentucky University's WNKU-FM canceled all local programming in preparation to sell the station. Music From The Hills Of Home was WNKU's longest-running program, says co-host Scot.
Music From The Hills Of Home will air 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays on Urban Artifact radio, an adult album alternative (Triple-A) music service owned and produced by Northside's Urban Artifact brewery.
How many times since then was she asked when her show will resume?
"About 100,000," Laur says with a laugh. "People were sad when I left radio. They were personally hurt that I left them. But it wasn't my choice. People get attached to what they listen to on the radio, and I got attached to them too."
Scot will co-host and produce the show. He plays the recorded music when Laur instructs him to "mash the button." (Scot created this graphic to promote the Urban Artifact show.)
Unlike the old WNKU-FM show, the revival will air two hours (instead of three) and at midday Sunday (instead of Sunday evening).
"I’m choosing to do two hours because I'm at an advanced age and I need to conserve my energy," says Laur, who was invited to host the WNKU-FM bluegrass show by a station manager who heard her singing at Arnold's Bar & Grill in 1989, four years after the campus station began broadcasting. Laur had been signing at Arnold's on Tuesday nights since 1975, in addition to playing bluegrass at Aunt Maudie's bar in Over-the-Rhine and other venues.
"It's the same show. Same concept. Same title," says Scot, one of many WNKU alums who shared memories about the station before it was sold a year ago.
Scot says they play "stringbands and great harmony singing. The best in bluegrass, from Old-Time to Newgrass, with a generous helping of our many great local artists."
Then he quickly adds: "Of course, bluegrass is an amalgam and we’re anything but orthodox. We’ll fold in music that touches on the soul of our show. For example, when Jack White did an acoustic version of an old White Stripes tune, we shared it. A stringband playing a murder ballad felt right at home. The phones lit up. Our listeners loved it."
They've played Loretta Lynn singing an old Doris Day hit and Del McCoury covering Frank Sinatra, and read some "hillbilly haiku” and emails from listeners.
Laur says she's anxious to get back on the air and play a couple songs that have been stuck in her head: "My Ropin' Days Are Done" and "Bound To Ride."
"I'm so jazzed about this new kind of radio station. It's so modern. It's like The Jetsons," she says, referring to ABC's futuristic animated series (1962-63). "You're listening to the radio, but you're not listening to the radio because you're listening online."