Steel Trappings

Steel Radio

SteelRadio Is Back On the Air

September 10, 2023 • Addison ChingNews

SteelRadio, a station that presents, preserves and promotes steel guitar music, is back on the air.

According to the current website, radio veterans and steel guitar enthusiasts Tim Wallis and Rich Mounce created SteelRadio in the mid-1990s at KWRP.fm in Decatur, Illinois. For 15 years, with a significant worldwide listenership and a library of over 10,000 songs, the station was managed by Michael Scott (son of DeWitt "Scotty" Scott, the founder of the International Steel Guitar Convention) until it was sold in 2016.

Michael Scott was forced to shut the station down at the end of 2016 because of pay-to-play fees imposed by ASCAP, as non-payment of these fees could result in fines upwards of $175,000. At that time, Scott voiced his opinion that while ASCAP requires stations like his to pay ASCAP licensing fees, ASCAP may not, in turn, be redistributing royalties to the owners of original works registered with ASCAP.

Veteran SteelRadio broadcast personality and SteelRadio host Debbie Connor took over ownership of the station in 2017 and kept it running for several years via Internet broadcasting under steelradio.com. It ceased broadcasting sometime in mid-2019.

Under its previous ownership, SteelRadio produced live broadcasts of the Maui Steel Guitar Festival in 2014, 2015, and 2017.

Debbie Connor and Matt McClain broadcasting live at the 2017 Maui Steel Guitar Festivali
Debbie Connor and Matt McClain broadcasting live at the 2017 Maui Steel Guitar Festival. pc-Don Touchi

In 2022, the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, Inc. (SGHOF) in St. Louis, Missouri received grant funds to bring back SteelRadio to the internet airwaves as well as to help establish a brick-and-mortar SGHOF museum.

SteelRadio is now under the direction of General Manager Ted Smouse as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

According to the current website, SteelRadio, the broadcast arm of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame, is dedicated to presenting and preserving music, talk and information about Steel Guitar, Dobro and Slide Guitar. Listener-supported SteelRadio plays music of the heroes of steel guitar and dobro, and also focuses on the way steel and slide guitar are being used today.

The current vision statement: "SteelRadio is a community non-profit radio station supported by listener financial donations, memberships and business underwriting, presenting the music of the heroes of steel guitar in Hawaiian, country and western, and steel guitar jazz. SteelRadio also presents the many ways steel guitar, dobro and slide guitar are being used today. By building a legacy of high-quality, diverse and inclusive programming, we are creating the foundation for SteelRadio to exist for years to come."

Current programming consists primarily of "Curated Songs from the SteelRadio music library."

The station is looking to expand its programming and is looking for hosts with the passion, the knowledge, the music library and the access to production capability to produce shows and content for SteelRadio. According to the website, "All genres are welcome (Hawaiian, country, bluegrass, jazz, blues, rock, gospel, sacred steel, conjunto, tejano, world music, experimental, ambient, etc.) as long as the music features steel guitar, dobro and/or slide guitar." Artists desiring airplay consideration should send physical CDs (preferred) to SteelRadio, 1000 Folts Ave., Austin, TX 78704-2115. Check their website's Get Involved page for information about submitting digital media.

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Maui Steel Guitar Festival - CANCELED
October 14, 2023 – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST
The Shops at Wailea, Wailea, Hawai‘i
October 15, 2023 – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST
Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, Kahului, Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani
December 14-17, 2023 – Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection, Waimea, Hawai‘i Island.

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Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday — CANCELED
September 9, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Maui Steel Guitar Festival Reprise
October 14, 2023 - 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Maui Steel Guitar Festival - CANCELED
October 15, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, – 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM HST

Livestream Steel Guitar Saturday — CANCELED
November 19, 2023 – 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM HST

Hawai‘i Island Steel Guitar Experience at Mauna Lani
December 15, 2023 Ho‘olaule‘a concert – 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM HST


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Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association (HSGA) 2023 Festival *
September 21-23, 2023 – Odd Fellows Lodge, Cupertino, CA
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