For the first time since its inception in 1983, NPR Music's live radio show Mountain Stage will have a new host. Series co-founder Larry Groce is handing the reigns over to country music star and former guest host Kathy Mattea.
"Kathy's been coming on the show for more than 30 years now," Groce said in a press release. "And in all that time and with all her success, she really hasn't changed who she is at her core. She embodies the best of West Virginia the same way Mountain Stage does, and that's how we knew she'd be the perfect person for this job."
Across nearly 40 years, the live performance radio series has hosted talents ranging from singer-songwriters John Prine and Townes Van Zandt to outsider poets Patti Smith and Allen Ginsberg. It's produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting out of the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W. Va.,
"There's something quintessentially West Virginia about Mountain Stage," added Mattea. "Beyond the world-class performances, beyond the collaborative atmosphere, beyond how much fun it is, I think the show offers a really important insight into the people and the culture that make West Virginia so special, and I'm always thrilled to help share that with the world."
Mattea has made more Mountain Stage appearances than any other female talent. The Grammy winner is the second-most frequent musical guest in the show's history, behind fellow West Virginia native Tim O'Brien.
Groce will stick around as the show's artistic director.
Future episodes include an October taping at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. as part of the venue's 50th anniversary celebration. That episode will feature Asleep at the Wheel, Carsie Blanton and O'Brien with Jan Fabricius.
Mountain Stage is heard on nearly 300 public radio stations nationwide.