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Rumsey Radio Hour returns

By Staff | Nov 11, 2011

Rumsey Radio Hour performers have just over a week until they take to the Frank Center stage and airwaves after a yearlong hiatus. And they promise that this is a show that the community will not want to miss.

Jeanne Muir, radio hour coordinator, and Peggy McKowen, a volunteer who is working on production, said those listening and attending the hour live will see familiar characters as well as new skits, some surrounding the town’s 250th anniversary.

One skit, dubbed “The History of Shepherdstown,” will sure get some laughs, said radio hour veteran Mark Kraham.

“We guarantee it won’t be historically accurate,” he said. “Hopefully it’s entertaining.”

And Kraham, who does a variety of voices for the radio hour, said one reprisal he believes people will look forward to is Phil Bufithis’ character, Dr. Lucas – what Kraham calls “an eccentric type.”

Radio hour participants also say that there will be a special tribute to another familiar contributor, the late Ethan Fischer, who played “Johnny Dime, poet of crime.”

Another long-time radio hour performer, Todd Coyle, said what makes the performance so special are the people who put it on.

“We all put it together,” he said.

Coyle said everyone has his or her part in the production and execution of the radio hour. Coyle will perform a feature song and read some lines this year. His company, Earth Vibe Productions, will also produce the sound for the performance.

“We all have such diverse backgrounds in entertainment,” he said. “It makes it real interesting. It’s like taking a single subject and looking at it from eight or 10 points of view.”

Muir noted that the troupe, who voluntarily lend their time and talents to the project, has just as diverse professions as their entertainment backgrounds. Some are professors, some work in entertainment, while others are news directors or accountants.

“They’re all people who have day jobs,” Muir said. “And they’re all pretty creative and talented.”

The Rumsey Radio Hour started first as a monthly endeavor in 1989. It was performed live in Reynolds Hall on Shepherd University’s campus and was broadcast over WSHC, Shepherd’s radio station.

Kraham called the monthly schedule “aggressive,” and in 1996, the ensemble retired the show. In 2003, members of the original cast brought it back, and in 2010 there was a hiatus due to many members inability to perform.

Proceeds have often gone to the Shepherdstown Public Library. This year funds will be split between the library – in memoriam of Fischer, Brenda Burlin and Michelle Baruch – and the Shepherdstown 250 celebration.

Organizers said the radio hour has always been about community – from its production to its performance to its charity in the end.

“I think, more than anything else, it’s been a community-oriented program,” Muir said.

“I want it to be a really warm welcome to the holiday season, welcome to Shepherdstown kind-of-thing,” McKowen said. “A sense of community.”

Tickets for the radio hour are $15 each or two for $25. They will be sold at the door for $20 each. They can be found at Dickinson and Wait Craft Gallery, the Four Seasons Bookstore and The Source in Shepherdstown, as well as at Albert & Arnold’s Wine and Cheese shop in Charles Town.

The show will take place this year at the Frank Center on Nov. 19 at 8 p.m.