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Public Radio Music Day Showcases How Local Stations Keep Listeners, Artists & Communities Connected

Unsplash/Matt Botsford

On April 16th, 2020 we joined local public radio music stations, fans, and featured performers nationwide to celebrate the first-ever Public Radio Music Day.

Philadelphia is home to two of the leading public radio music stations in the country with WRTI’s unique pairing of classical music by day and jazz at night, and WXPN’s mix of rock, blues, folk, and roots. Both stations have built powerful communities organized around musical discovery with a deep commitment to nurturing local talent.

In partnership withnoncomMUSIC Alliance, leading non-commercial music stations across the country planned an exciting day of station and joint community events to spotlight the unique service public radio music stations provide to audiences, artists, and communities across America.  The planned activities have changed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The stations pivoted as our audiences and the musicians they love need us as never before.

Now more than ever, local, community-based, artist-oriented public radio stations are finding creative ways to connect audiences with music, musicians, and each other.  We're working overtime to support our listeners and our local music ecosystem. Music stations' response to the COVID-19 crisis is a powerful demonstration of our vital community service at the local level and collective impact on a national scale.

For instance, WXPN and WRTI have both set up calendars for virtual artist performances.  WXPN 's daily "Checking In With...." daily series connects us to artists around the country to see how they are faring in the coronavirus crisis and  what music is keeping them grounded. WRTI's daily feature The Morning Meditation: Music of Calm, Hope and Renewal provides a focal point for listeners to tune in and consciously take a break from the non-stop flow of news and information associated with the pandemic.

The #WRTILovesLocal campaign puts more local artists and groups on the air and online, reminding listeners of the performers in the community unable to work who need their support now more than ever. And last week, WXPN launched a Local Music Community Relief Fund aimed at supporting the local and regional music ecosystem of musicians, venues, and related workers.

Although our non-commercial music stations feature different genres, we share a "Network of Values" - a love of music discovery, curation of handcrafted playlists, preservation of regional and historic music traditions, performance across traditional and digital platforms, and community-based public service.

We strive to serve as significant cultural institutions to educate and enrich our community and support our region's music ecosystem.

Now more than ever, local, community-based, artist-oriented public radio music stations are finding creative ways to connect audiences with music, musicians, and each other.

Although the COVID-19 health crisis has placed constraints on live community events, today we join public radio stations nationwide in continuing to provide a trusted, comforting and uplifting presence for music fans, artists, and communities. We'll honor Public Radio Music Day with special on-air and online programming, virtual concerts, prerecorded fan favorites, testimonials from artists and listeners, and more.

WRTI started the day with 12 hours of classical music featuring over 30 local ensembles, solo and chamber artists, and conductors, followed by an evening of Philly jazz celebrating the masters, old and new, emerging artists, and the release of new music videos recorded in the WRTI performance studio and featured on NPR Live Sessions.

WXPN kicked off Public Radio Music Day with an "All Philly Artists"  morning show followed by a "pop up" Throwback Thursday. Artists and fans shared their love for public radio on-air and online. And they connected artists and audiences through a series of Facebook Live interviews and performances throughout the day.

More information is available at PublicRadioMusicDay.org


Roger LaMay is the General Manager of WXPNat the University of Pennsylvania and former Chairman of the Board of NPR.

Bill Johnson is the General Manager of WRTI, a licensee of Temple University, and is currently Vice-Chair of Eastern Region Public Media.