Blues Unlimited is an NPR-style two-hour weekly radio show that explores the wonderful world of the blues, and its history, heritage, and rich cultural traditions. It has repeatedly been called the best radio show of its kind currently on offer in the United States market. Named in honor of the groundbreaking periodical, first published in England in 1963 by Mike Leadbitter and Simon Napier, Blues Unlimited has an established, loyal audience of listeners from around the globe. Hosted by “Sleepy Boy Hawkins” (the alter-ego of scholar, author, fanatic, and historian Steve Franz), each installment is a self-contained evergreen show, delving into a different genre, topic, theme, or aspect of the blues.
Blues Unlimited is available for broadcast worldwide, at a price that is surprisingly affordable. Radio stations that air Blues Unlimited tell us that it quickly gains traction with their listeners, and that they see their numbers go up when the program is airing. For more info, contact us at: bluesunlimited @ gmail dot com (or, you can use the handy online form, posted near the bottom of this main page).
Steve Franz graduated from the University of Memphis with a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology. He is the author of The Amazing Secret History of Elmore James, which was translated into Japanese in 2006, and selected as one of the 100 Books Every Blues Fan Should Own.
Our distinctive “Third and Beale Street” logo comes from a rare poster for the 1977 Beale Street Music Festival. Artist/designer unknown.
Praise for Blues Unlimited
“Highly recommended for anyone who would like to hear the best blues program under the sun. Great music presented beautifully by the most highly knowledgeable blues historian I am aware of….”
—George Mitchell, folklorist and author of “Blow My Blues Away”
“We were blown away by all the work you put into this.”
—Bob Koester, founder of the legendary Delmark record label
(commenting on the episode, “25 from Bob Koester”)
“Blues Unlimited is a real treasure! I really enjoy all of the programming, and always come away from an episode informed and inspired.”
—Randy Glines, avid listener
“I am still in awe of your program. Recently, while waiting for you to post a new one, I went surfing other blues podcasts and you really have no one in your league.”
—T.L., long-time blues fanatic & devoted listener
“I had no idea how much labor went into one of your shows!”
—Paul Garon, renowned author & blues scholar
“I listened to your show tonight, with the lights out and a margarita in my hand. Wonderful! Each song just seemed to flow from one to the next. And where in the world did you ever find such clear, undamaged recordings?”
—K.M. (a listener)
“I think you are doing an unbelievable job in presenting and preserving a body of work proportionately in size and detail that would rival the audio section of the Library of Alexandria. As a blues lover coming across the Elmore James mini-series and then discovering This Week in Blues History, well, thank you for your devotion and dedication. Bravo!”
—J.T. (a listener)