Red Shipley Tribute...ah-toodle-dee-doo

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Red Shipley began his radio career at WJMA in 1955 while in high school. After graduation in 1955 he went to Tennessee
for a possible job in television, but he returned to Orange, Virginia when a friend told him WJMA was looking for "a local boy".
Click here for a 2 minute video of Red talking about his time at WJMA.
Click here for Red's closing remarks on his last Stained Glass Bluegrass program.














Red Shipley in October of 2006 while recording Stained Glass Bluegrass for WAMU, Washington, DC.
photo by Phil Audibert

Red Shipley was born September 4, 1937 in Johnson City, Tennessee His family moved to Orange County, Virginia in 1952. During high school Red began working at WJMA doing the country music portion of "The Orange & Blue Review", a program aimed at teenagers. Red also played and lettered on the high school football team.

After graduation in 1955 he went back to his home state of Tennessee for a job at a Knoxville television station. That didn't develop and he returned to Orange, VA when a friend told him that WJMA was "looking for a local boy". Red said that meant someone who would "work cheap".

Red began full time employment at WJMA on Memorial Day of 1956. He was encouraged by another young announcer then at WJMA Ron Landry who had told him "If I can do it, you can do it."

In the beginning, Red worked afternoons writing copy, recording commercials followed by an evening air shift. By fall of 1956 he had moved to the morning slot which allowed him time to do play-by-play of Orange County High School football games. He continued doing play-by-play until he left WJMA for WPRW AM in Manassas, VA in November of 1959. During his time calling high school games, the Orange High team won 40 straight under legendary coach Paul Sizemore. Red recalled that "I didn't call a loosing game until late in the 1958 season."

He stayed at WPRW until April 1966 when he left for Big K (WKCW) in Warrenton, Virginia. In 1972 he moved to WPIK in Alexandria, Virginia where he was Music Director, Program Director and Operations Manager. He left WPIK in 1980 to work in the trade show industry. In 1982 he was asked to fill in temporarily for the host of Stained Glass Bluegrass on WAMU in Washington. That temporary job lasted 25 years. Red did his last SGBG show on September 16, 2007.

Red left full-time work in the radio industry in the early 1980s as country music became more "pop" and he lost interest. However, he continued to host Stained Glass Bluegrass on Sunday mornings on WAMU. In 1995 Red returned to Orange County just as his first radio station was looking for a new morning announcer. Thus was born a unique pairing of commercial and non-commercial radio. Each Sunday morning Red hosted Stained Glass Bluegrass on WJMA and it was also carried by WAMU in Washington. When WJMA broadcast commercials, WAMU aired non-commercial information. This unique arrangement lasted until September 11, 2005 when Red suffered a stroke and was unable to work. SGBG was hosted by Bob Wagner at WAMU and various local announcers at WJMA-FM covered his daily local morning show.

After recovery from the stroke, Red made a effort to return to host SGBG from WJMA, but he felt it was too taxing on his family members who helped him get to the radio station. So Red retired again after having held the morning shift at WJMA for 10 years. During those ten years he also continued with his love of sports and assisted with high school football play-by-play on WJMA.

WAMU was still interested in carrying SGBG. With the help of engineer Nick Henry, Red recorded SGBG each Monday at his home in Orange. The program was fed via the internet to WAMU for airing on Sundays. WJMA discontinued carrying Stained Glass Bluegrass until late in 2005. By January of 2007 Red began to cut back to hosting to twice a month. He announced another retirement and did his last SGBG show on September 16, 2007.Shortly thereafter new health issues arose and inoperable cancer was diagnosed. Red Shipley died on October 6, 2007.

In October of 2006 the International Bluegrass Music Association recognized Red as the IBMA Broadcaster of the Year at the 17th annual IBMA Awards in at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

Contributors to this page include Phil Audibert, Nick Henry, Sean Hall and Ed Rodriguez. Some information comes from an interview with Red in October of 2006. Photographs are from Phil Audibert and Orange County High School yearbooks.

Additions and corrections to this page should be sent to the WJMA Alumni webmaster, Ross Hunter.

updated 2/12/2015...thanks for the feedback.

Additional reading (all these links were working on 2/12/2015):

Marc Fischer in the Washington Post
Rob Bamberger in the Washington Post

 

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