Wednesday, October 12, 2016


In a nod to the growing influence of the Nashville new music scene, World Café and NPR Music are partnering to expand coverage from Music City and the Southern US. The new World Café Nashville will be providing expanded coverage including studio sessions, interviews and concert performances.

World Café Nashville, is being launched with two special events at City Winery in Nashville October 27th and 28th. On Thursday (10/27), a VIP reception for members of the music industry and media will precede a solo performance by acclaimed country singer-songwriter Eric Church. Then on Friday (10/28) there will be a celebration party featuring The Intoxicating Sounds of Steelism and Nashville's Femmes Fatales – Lera Lynn, Caitlin Rose, and Ruby Amanfu. Admission to both shows is free. Tickets to be distributed via World Cafe and WMOT.

World Cafe host David Dye said about the new Nashville partnership:

“This commitment to a deeper dive on World Cafe into the music of Nashville and places like Muscle Shoals, Memphis, Atlanta and New Orleans is central to our exploration of regional roots music, whether it be Americana, R&B, gospel, blues or rock. This will be musical discovery with a southern accent.”

Ann Powers

Ann Powers, a Nashville-based critic and correspondent for NPR Music is also contributing content to World Cafe Nashville.


As we reported in early September [link] WMOT [link] gave up years of being “second fiddle” (pun intended) to Nashville Public Radio’s NPR News WPLN and Classical WFCL and became Roots Radio 89.5 FM. With the switch, WMOT became an important voice for Americana, bluegrass and roots music, not only in Nashville but around the globe. 

The influential Nashville music blog Talking Bluegrass Music [link] gushed with praise for WMOT:

Suddenly, there were musicians coming 'live at me from my computer--musicians whom I had grown to know and love since discovering bluegrass music in the early 1980s. How good is that! Oh yeah, very good!

Photo courtesy of the New York Times
One of the world’s most influential on-air hosts, Peter Allen, died last week in New York.  Younger folks may not know the name but Allen changed the radio host’s role at live broadcast events. During the 29+ years (1975 – 2004) he was the voice of Metropolitan Opera, he perfected a conversional and inclusive delivery that still is heard on classical music radio today.

I had my own brief connection with Allen.  Back when I was a kid (keep in mind, I am older than dirt) I loved to visit my maternal grandparents, in part, because of the 1939 Zenith radio in their home. The Zenith was a huge tube-type radio that had an amazing ability to hear faraway AM stations. (The Zenith could also be used to heat the house!)

One Saturday afternoon, I happened upon Allen and Met Opera on WBBM, Chicago.  Allen was different from any announcer I had heard previously. He wasn’t just “announcing” the opera, he was doing play-by-play coverage of the entire event. I imagined that Allen was in a “control center” like the ones used for broadcasts of space flights.

In James Barron’s wonderful tribute to Allen in the New York Times [link] Barron described Allen’s on-air technique: 

Beginning in 1975, he delivered a kind of recitative, telling listeners what would happen as a given opera unfolded, and even what was happening before that, from the moment the lights went down to the moment the Met’s great gold curtain went up. “The bravos rise as he mounts the stand, smiling to the house, bowing to the house, now turning to conduct,” Mr. Allen said one Saturday in January 2000 as the Met’s artistic director at the time, James Levine, arrived for a performance of “Der Rosenkavalier.”

Allen was also a host on WQXR-FM back when it was a commercial classical station. Listen to Julie Burstein’s salute to Allen when he retired from the Met in 2004 on WNYC at [link].


Broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera began in 1931 and continue today on noncommercial classical stations. Now, MET performances are also streamed online and are broadcast on Sirius/XM.

Allen was the second broadcast host for Met Opera. The first host, Milton Cross, spent more than 40 years welcoming listeners with a more “pompous” announcing style that was more typical of announcers at the time.

Met Opera broadcasts are also notable in radio history because of their long-time sponsor Texaco. The oil company was the sole sponsor from 1940 until 2003. During much of the 63 years when Texaco was the sponsor Met Opera broadcasting were carried live on the NBC radio network.

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