Three decades on Richmond radio will seemingly come to an end for horticulturalist Andre Viette – at least temporarily – on Saturday, when his show “In the Garden” wraps up its run on WRVA-AM.
“Totally off guard,” said Viette’s son Mark when asked about the station’s decision to end the broadcast. ” I’m disappointed. It took us by surprise. »
Les Viettes were informed by letter from WRVA in early June that the station would no longer carry the syndicated show. Mark Viette expects July 3 to be the last “In the Garden” program on the station. He was told the timeslot — WRVA airs “In the Garden” from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings, though the show continues until 11 a.m. — had been sold out.
A station official did not respond to a request for comment on “In the Garden” or what will replace it.
Although the show continues to air on stations in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, Mark Viette said the loss of WRVA leaves a void for listeners in a wide Central Virginia band. He is investigating the possibility of another station in the Richmond area picking up the show. He also said plans were underway for a revamped website (www.inthegardenradio.com) to stream the show online.
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“We’re looking for ideas and solutions for this,” Viette said in a phone interview from Fishersville, where the family lives and operates a small nursery specializing in daylilies, hostas and peonies and has a series of gardens that visitors can enjoy. “Hopefully over the next few weeks we can still bring our show to our loyal listeners in and around Richmond.”
He said he heard from many Richmond-area listeners, such as Gwen Moore, who emailed him about the “distressing” news.
“Through your show, you have brought a sense of normalcy, especially in these chaotic and trying times!” Moore wrote. “We need you here!” The garden is more important than ever!!!”
Indeed, Viette said the pandemic appears to have inspired a renewed interest in gardening, which he said was already “America’s favorite pastime.”
“We’ve had more calls on ‘In Your Garden’ than ever before, likely due to COVID with more people spending time at home,” he said.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Viettes have broadcast the show from André’s dining room, overlooking the family’s gardens, rather than from the studio of flagship station WSSV-AM in Harrisonburg, where the show was launched in 1990 and soon began to spread to other stations, including WRVA.
Before the pandemic, the Viettes alternately hosted the show, as Andre often traveled, led tours or visited the family’s tropical gardens in St. Thomas. But since the pandemic, the Viettes co-organize every week.
“Dad and I are a little different…and we don’t always agree,” Viette said with a laugh. “I had a friend in York, Pennsylvania who used to say, ‘I love it when you fight. “”
Andre Viette moved to the Shenandoah Valley in 1976 from Long Island, NY, where he had followed in his father’s footsteps in the nursery.
In Fishersville, he started Andre Viette Farm and Nursery and developed a public figure through his public programs and radio, where he answers calls on all sorts of other gardening and landscaping issues, like blight tomato.
The Viettes have increasingly focused on their public outreach over the past two decades – providing gardening information on radio, television and online – due to water issues on their farm. The dry wells and the drought have greatly affected the way they do business, said Mark Viette.
“When my parents moved here, they didn’t plan to operate a grow facility and garden center,” he said. “That wasn’t their goal, so they never really checked the water. If you go 5 miles towards Waynesboro, there’s a huge underwater aquifer with unlimited water, but we don’t know. have not here.
The Viettes have drilled several wells and built a cistern, but they no longer have access to enough water to properly irrigate a major farming operation, he said.
Prior to the water issues, the Viettes supplied a wide variety of wholesale plants to retailers from Tennessee to Vermont, he said, but they had to scale down their business model and “get back to our roots,” that is, their specialties, Viette said. .
They are now focused on spreading their knowledge through means such as informational videos, podcasts and their syndicated radio show, which at least for now will continue to broadcast from Andre’s dining room, with flowers and birds within sight of the window and a library of gardening resources. books close at hand, although Mark also has his iPad handy to consult when needed.
“My dad is a bit old-fashioned,” Viette said with a laugh. “He doesn’t use a computer. He has an old flip phone. He has no email. He doesn’t text people.
Sometimes listeners call with questions about plants or problems that even Viettes don’t know about, sending them to get their books or iPads, whichever is fine.
“I like to learn something new every day,” said Mark Viette. “We really love our listeners.”