Walla Walla’s Blues Therapy gets radio play overseas — from Antarctica to the UK

Blues Therapy hosts Armand Parada, left, and Ray Hansen talk about their show, which is gaining an international audience.

Blues Therapy hosts Armand Parada, left, and Ray Hansen talk about their show, which is gaining an international audience. Photo by Greg Lehman.

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WALLA WALLA — A live blues radio show that has been entertaining locals for more than a decade has crossed the pond and landed in Europe via the Internet.

“Over there the blues is cool to them still, and they are starting to discover the artists we already knew about,” said Ray “Biggdaddy” Hansen of the Blues Therapy Radio Show.

Hansen and co-host Armand “The Doctor” Parada are the creators of the Sunday night show that airs live 7-9 p.m. from Whitman College’s KWCW 90.5 FM.

Last month, Parada and Hansen expanded their audience overseas when they signed on with Kansas City Online Radio, a web based network of streamed blues shows that markets both to United States and international listeners.

“These guys, they got a great personality and that is what I like,” Kansas City Online Radio founder Troy Schell said, adding that Europe is where they have the most listeners.

“Especially in Germany, there are a lot of English speakers there,” Schell said.

Brazil, the United Kingdom and even Antarctica are other markets that the Blues Therapy Radio Show will now reach.

The show won’t air live but will be rebroadcast Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

“To us it is important that it is produced live,” Schell said. “Live makes a huge difference. There is a connect with the listenership.”

As for how many listeners the DJs will gain, Schell said the technology doesn’t allow for accurate demographics. And in some cases, the hosting countries block listener tracking.

“The one that is amazing — but I don’t get data because it is protected — apparently China is a pretty big listenership,” Schell said.

Schell estimates that during peak hours their online listeners could range between 5,000-8,000.

That gain in numbers won’t bring Parada and Hansen extra cash because DJs for Kansas City Online Radio are volunteers. And Hansen and Parada are also volunteers at KWCW.

Hansen, a corrections officer, started the radio show when he was president of the Walla Walla Blues Society. He answered a call by Whitman College officials, who were looking for live shows to air during the summer when students were away on break.

Since starting the program, Hansen said he has expanded his entertainment career to emcee gigs for blues events, including Rockin’ the Lowboy, the Walla Walla Guitar Festival and every May at the Untapped Blues and Brews festival in Kennewick. But it’s the Blues Therapy Radio Show that would have him trading in his jailer keys for a gig in front of a microphone if he could just pencil it out.

“I wouldn’t mind making a jump to commercial radio, but it has got to be the right fit,” Hansen said.

For Parada, a communications technology specialist who retired in Walla Walla 11 years ago, the show has given him a chance to venture into blues entertainment.

“I was trying to find a place to open a blues nightclub when we got here. It just never panned out,” Parada said.

What has paid off is the interest that Parada sees from college students eager to learn about the blues.

“What I like about our show is that we get a lot of the college kids calling in, and they are getting interested in the blues,” Parada said.

As for the Walla Walla fan base, Hansen isn’t quite sure how many listeners they have.

“We really couldn’t tell you because there are no demographics for college radio that we are aware of,” Hansen said.

The two DJs say they occasionally come across locals who regularly listen to their show.

“The only thing that has really surprised me was that people were actually listing to us,” Parada said. “Other than that, Ray and I have never had any problems talking about blues.”

The one struggle over the last five years has been making sure they get to keep their Sunday evening slot at KWCW.

“We have to make sure every fall semester we will get our show back. And the college director has been really good about it,” Hansen said.

And one day they might have international fans to help them keep that slot.

“I don’t know if there is a big fan base there, but they are huge fans of American music,” Hansen said.

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