The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is pleased to present a series of articles under the banner American Impresario. The series will explore the careers and contributions of leading U.S. music curators whose creative work has profoundly influenced the field by giving listeners new ways to experience and understand music.
The premiere American Impresario article comes from one of the nation’s most adventurous radio producers, WNYC’s John Schaefer. Since 2002, John has hosted Soundcheck, a show featuring daily live music and criticism. He has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds since 1982 (“The No. 1 radio show for the Global Village” – Billboard) and the New Sounds Live concert series since 1986.
Schaefer has written extensively about music, including New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music (Harper & Row, NY, 1987; Virgin Books, London, 1990); The Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music (Cambridge University Press, U.K., 2000); and the TV program Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin (Bravo Television, 2003). He was contributing editor for Spin and Ear magazines, and his liner notes appear on more than 100 recordings, ranging from The Music of Cambodia to recordings by Yo-Yo Ma and Terry Riley.
In 2003, Schaefer was honored with the American Music Center's prestigious Letter of Distinction for his "substantial contributions to advancing the field of contemporary American music in the United States and abroad." In May 2006, New York Magazine, in its “Influentials” issue, cited Schaefer as one of "the people whose ideas, power, and sheer will are changing New York.” He first blogged for WNYC when accompanying the New York Philharmonic on its trip to North Korea in 2008 and continues to do so on the Soundcheck page at wnyc.org.
Photo: John Schaefer, courtesy of www.therestisnoise.com/2007/04/djs_without_bor.html.
Making Waves in Radio
by John Schaefer
In 1981, I was young, restless, and bored. (For most people who write those words, the next sentence is, “so I formed a band.” To this day I’m not sure why I didn’t try that first.) Mostly, I was bored with the music I heard on the radio...