Longtime WMNF bluegrass host Tom Henderson passes away

02/27/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: bluegrass, Tom Henderson, Randy Wind, wmnf, Tampa


Tom Henderson earned a WMNF Lifetime Achievement Award in April 2010.

photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF News

The WMNF family lost a valued long-time member Wednesday. Tom Henderson, the host of the popular program This is Bluegrass passed away. Tom began programming bluegrass on the radio in the early 1970s.

We interviewed Randy Wind, program director at WMNF about Tom's influence on bluegrass.

"We lost Tom Henderson last night. He was lead bluegrass DJ at WMNF for over 25 years. It's a huge loss for WMNF and for the bluegrass world because Tom is known all over the bluegrass world as one of the leading passionate advocates for bluegrass music. For 40 years, for more than 40 years he did radio but even more than that he was just an advocate. He had a bluegrass parlor up on Busch Boulevard. It was the place where bluegrass musicians jammed. He put together bands of young musicians, some of whom have gone on to fame under his tutelage, the Bluegrass Parlor Band. He's always just been so passionate about music. It's a loss. To lose anybody who is that central to music. He lived bluegrass. There was nothing else for him in life, his family of course but he loved bluegrass with a passion that really can't be matched."

He programmed on WMNF but his show also went out nationwide.

"Right, he had a show that was syndicated nationally. A one hour show syndicated nationally called "This is Bluegrass" and he kind of imported it to WMNF and expanded on it. He would use part of the syndicated shows often and then expand on it to two hour shows at WMNF. Tom was doing radio before WMNF at some of the other stations. He worked at WUSF locally and I'm not sure where else but Tom started doing radio, I believe, in 1971 or 1970, a long time ago. He did 42 years, I think."

Finally, I want to touch on his famous signature line '88.5 WMNF on the far left of the radio dial'. What was that about?

"Tom didn't always agree with the politics at WMNF so when he would deliver his line he would say WMNF 'On the far left' and he would leave it hanging there for a while and then say 'of the radio dial'. So it was funny but he made a little point, I guess. We sure miss Tom."

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wow, sad news. I'll definitely miss Tom; he was such a nice guy. Condolences to Cricket, Carmen, and Tom's family. I hope WMNF will consider a special memorial at the station for him, such as naming a room or common area in his memory.

Thank you sir...

Condolences to Cricket and Tom's family... we've lost a true original...

I loved Tom's Blue Grass show on WMNF. He will be missed

Tom and Pete Seeger will be having a blast...loved the man....spent many hours with him...and the gang....Adeus amigo

bye bye Tom from Germany - we will miss you....

About a thousand yrs ago,when the atmospheric conditions were just right,I could pick-up WAMU,American University,in D.C.from Philly!Tom was on saturdays and sundays(stained Glass bluegrass)He was so knowlegable and popular world wide!We lost a true southern gentleman!

God bless you Tom...and bless you Chris...Thank you for sharing your lives and love with us.

I feel as if I have lost a dear friend. I began listening to Tom in 1971 and I went to see the band play at the Tampa Theatre in 1983. We have lost so much knowledge of the music and the people who created it. No one can take Tom's place . I will miss you, you gave me so much. Go rest high in Heaven Tom, your work on earth is done. May God let you fly low to watch over those you love.