Larry Groce, 73, is leaving the show after 38 years and more than 950 shows, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Country music star and West Virginia native Kathy Mattea is replacing him.
Groce had planned to leave after his 1,000th show, but live performances of the radio program were shut down for nearly a year by COVID-19.
“We’ve been working toward it for a while,” Groce said. “I thought, generally, it was time for me to step aside.”
Mountain Stage was able to record only a couple of shows near the end of 2020, and is set to record fewer shows in 2021 than normal.
“We’ve done 972 shows, and I’ve hosted 952 of them,” Groce said.
Groce will remain the artistic director for the show for now.
Mountain Stage was founded in 1983 by Groce, producer Andy Ridenour and engineer Francis Fisher. The show started as a live variety program, with music and comedy bits broadcast statewide, and developed into an eclectic music program.
Ridenour retired in 2014, and Fisher died of cancer in the spring.
Mattea, a frequent Mountain Stage guest, said, “I recognize what an important institution this is, how important it is to West Virginia culture.”
She hadn’t been looking for that kind of job, but when the show asked, she said, “I’m going to say yes.”
Executive Producer Adam Harris said Mattea’s love of songs makes her a perfect fit for the role.
“That’s what we’re about, the songs,” he said. “She’s also an artist and understands the artistic side, knows that artists need support and appreciation.”