NPR Music: Making Music Matter On-Air and Online
Radio airplay has always been a critical part of musicians’ careers. As Jacob Slichter, drummer for the rock band Semisonic, wrote in 2004, “There is no better guarantor of a band’s success than a hit single on the radio luring listeners into record stores to buy the album.” But some would argue that radio’s heyday as an arbiter of taste is over. In addition to an increasingly crowded media environment and the growing influence of online music services, commercial radio stations have relegated their playlists to cookie cutter programming, DJ-less shifts, or Ben-like formats that only play last century’s “hits”.
But there are exciting things going on with public radio. In addition to the steadfast vibrancy of college and community radio, NPR has developed NPR Music, which features some of today’s most sought-after bands and artists. NPR Music and its partner stations have also embraced technological change and jumped into webcasting, podcasting, blogging, social networks, HD radio and partnering with local venues to produce and promote shows.
This special segment will examine how public radio is curating content and embracing technology to stretch the boundaries of how on-the-air radio can affect culture and community. Which technologies have been most effective? And, subsequently, how has NPR Music’s rise as a musical tastemaker affected musicians and labels?
Bob Boilen Host and creator of NPR’s All Songs Considered
Anna Celenza Associate Professor of Music and Department Chair, Department of Performing Arts, Georgetown University (moderator)
John Davis Musician and Radio Host, WOXY
Anya Grundmann Executive Producer of NPR Music
Josh Jackson Special Projects Producer, WBGO
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