A Homespun Maine Radio Show

Or, as Annie Stillwater Gray describes it, A Prairie Home Companion from a woman’s point of view

One of the great upside-down benefits of the internet is that it has magically expanded the reach of radio. It’s now possible to hear about and listen to shows that not so long ago, would have been out of reach and off the radar.

One such example is The General Store Variety Show, a weekly one-hour serial about to mark its 17th anniversary. Set in the fictional U.S.-Canada border town of Angel’s Notch, the program features real-life husband and wife Annie Stillwater Gray (pictured) and Andy Wendell, hanging out at a fictional place of business and putting on a show-within-a-show. The couple very casually tape the program at their home studio in Solon, mingling each week with friends on-air. From a piece in the Bangor Daily News:

Gray has created a tight-knit community populated by eccentric, good-hearted neighbors as well as more unexpected visitors–including gods and magical beings–who drop by the general store for coffee and conversation. The story has developed over the years through a radio script that is performed by Gray, Wendell and a host of their actual neighbors and friends, who gather once a month or so to record several weeks’ worth of scripts in one go. On the show, the unfolding story of Angel’s Notch is punctuated by an eclectic selection of songs from all genres and all eras, ranging from the 1920s to the 2000s.

Gray’s professional radio background dates back to well before the beginning of this current show March 19, 2000 on WERU-FM. She also hosts a Friday afternoon program on Waterville’s WMHB-FM, Stroke the Goddess, which she frames this way:

Having spent many years as a professional DJ spinning mostly men on those generic rock stations, I thought it is only fair to balance that with a couple of hours a week focusing on women in music.

Gray, who has gone previously by the name Annie Earhart and was born Donna Kelly Gray, graduated from Boston University in 1969 with a degree in advertising design and photography. Her current name is a nod to her “spiritual guide” Darci Stillwater, a man who died in 1831 and who is chronicled in her books.

Photo via: spiritguides.cc