Bill Frater started in radio in 1977 in northern California, working his way up from a campus station to public and commercial radio. “Punk music was exciting the other DJ’s while I was playing bluegrass. One day I interviewed David Grisman and the next hour Stewart Copeland of The Police. Both had new albums, and although I preferred Grisman’s, I liked this new song ‘Roxanne’!”
During a 20-year stint at public station KRCB, he developed the Americana show Freght Train Boogie, along with a website with the same name. He moved the show to commercial KRSH in Santa Rosa in 2012. All along the way, he nurtured his love for American roots music and was part of the growth of the Americana music format.
Frater and his family escaped the California wildfires in 2017 and relocated to Salem, Oregon. There he hosts a weekly show Billy’s Boogie on public station KMUZ and continues to produce his Freight Train Boogie podcast.
What is Americana music? According to the Americana Music Association, it’s “contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.”
Bill Frater’s explanation, in a profile published when he wrote a column for No Depression, is more colorful: “I happen to love country, blues, rock, folk, and soul music, and the best Americana music includes some of these elements. I believe that there’s a place where George Jones and Al Green intersect, and it’s that soulful place that you can feel with your heart.”
Frater now brings Freight Train Boogie to an international audience on Bluegrass Country. Ít’s an exciting opportunity,” he says. “It’s great to get to produce a 3-hour show, and I think the broad spectrum of music that defines Americana music will make for eclectic and entertaining radio.”