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Veteran music journalist Nate Chinen is WRTI’s new editorial director

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Michael Lionstar
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Nate Chinen

WRTI is committed to celebrating the rich diversity of voices and experiences in classical music and jazz through the production of innovative, multichannel content. We’ve created a new position to lead the station in this effort. It is our pleasure to announce that Nate Chinen is now on board as WRTI’s first editorial director, and we’re excited to tell you all about him.

Nate has been covering music for more than 25 years. He spent a dozen of them working as a critic for The New York Times. As the director of editorial content at WBGO, he worked with the multiplatform program Jazz Night in America – reporting and coproducing episodes including a dispatch from the Ojai Music Festival and a 50th anniversary celebration of ECM Records at Big Ears. He contributes regularly to NPR’s Morning Edition, where his most recent story was about Ukrainian pianist Vadim Neselovskyi, and NPR Music, where he reviewed recent operas by Terence Blanchard and Wayne Shorter.

A 13-time winner of the Helen Dance–Robert Palmer Award for Excellence in Writing, presented by the Jazz Journalists Association, Nate is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz For the New Century, hailed as one of the best books of 2018 by GQ, NPR, Billboard and JazzTimes. In advance of the book’s publication on Pantheon, New Yorker classical critic and author Alex Ross declared it “sharp in style and warm in feeling,” adding that Nate “follows the music where it goes, and exults in its plurality of voices.”

Nate is also coauthor of Myself Among Others: A Life in Music, the 2003 autobiography of festival impresario and producer George Wein, which the Jazz Journalists Association recognized as the year’s Best Book About Jazz. His work also appears in Best Music Writing 2011 (Da Capo), Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt (Duke University Press, 2012), and Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History (Voyageur Press, 2012).

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nate started his career as a music critic in 1996, at the Philadelphia City Paper. There he wrote a steady stream of reviews and features, along with a biweekly column, The Gig. He later developed The Gig into a monthly column at JazzTimes, where it ran in 125 consecutive installments. You can read about Nate’s first few days at WRTI on The Gig, which is now on Substack.

Nate Chinen

Although Nate comes to WRTI with a long track record in jazz and improvised music, he’s also a classical music fan, and brings his editorial expertise to coverage of both genres. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the amazing team at WRTI, serving both classical and jazz,” he says. “Since my arrival in Philadelphia as an incoming college freshman in 1994, this city has been an incredible place to dive in and experience a creative community at ground level. Last year, when I moved back to the area after more than two decades in New York, I was taken aback by how much it felt like a homecoming.”

“This new position represents an investment in arts journalism and storytelling for our audience and it reinforces WRTI’s commitment to our mission and core values.” says WRTI General Manager Bill Johnson. “We believe that as a public media music institution we should be the best storytellers about music—on and off the air.”

Nate has already started working on WRTI’s Fall Preview, covering classical and jazz. Stay tuned!