Friday, December 8, 2017


World Cafe, the leading Triple A nationally distributed program, announced last week that it has hired production whiz and Alternative rock insider Stephen Kallao to be a Contributing Host. In the newly created gig, Kallao will produce digital special features and conduct interviews for World Cafe’s online platforms and daily two-hour radio program.

The addition of Kallao comes at a time when World Cafe [link] faces carriage challenges on Triple A stations. Triple A programmers have found that hyper-local programming with live hometown curators often attracts more listening than national programs. 

Kallao has worked at some of the most innovative commercial and noncommercial stations in the nation including 91X in San Diego and KNRK - 97/4 FM – in Portland [link] considered by many observers to be one the best alternative rock “music discovery” stations.

Kallao brings even more to the party.  From 2015 until earlier this year he was Imaging Director for online music service Slacker. At WYMS he received multiple awards from the Wisconsin Broadcaster’s Association for Best Radio Show in the state.

Kallao is also busy sound wizard. He describes his personal brand on his SoundCloud site [link]:

I am Stephen Kallao. I make sounds with other sounds.

He demonstrates this unique talent in two to six minute module mash-ups on a variety of topics. His mix of spoken words and contemporary music are enticing, sometimes dance-able and often educational. Perhaps we will be hearing similar sound collages on World Cafe in the future.

One of my favorite modules is one that Kallao produced while he was at Slacker - Sample City: The Taylor Swift Rabbithole [link]. In the piece he traces the sampling interpolation of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy in Taylor’s song Look What You Made Me Do. I’ve never heard anything quite like it.

Kallao sounds excited about the new gig. He said in a press release:

"When I worked at Radio Milwaukee, we constantly name-checked WXPN and World Cafe as examples of 'the right way to do things. “To be extended an invite from a group that ‘gets it’ is unbelievably humbling.

"I'm excited to work with an undeniable talent like Talia Schlanger, and to learn from her, Executive Producer Bruce Warren, and the entire team at WXPN"


World Cafe was launched by WXPN, Philadelphia in 1991. During the 1990s and early 2000s the program featured mostly singer/songwriters. Founding host David Dye’s interviews were woven with music tracks (some recorded live) in a mellow mix.

As the years have gone by, the pace of the music, and the program itself, has become more rock oriented. When Dye stepped aside from hosting duties earlier in 2017, new host Talia Schlanger brought in a younger  and more diverse sensibility. Today artists featured on World Cafe include newcomers like The War on Drugs, Father John Misty and Xylouris White mixed with heritage artists such as David Crosby and Beck.
According to WXPN, World Cafe is now heard on 220 stations and has an estimated weekly audience around 537,000. But the current noncom station emphasis on local, local, local presents marketing challenges for national programs like World Cafe.

The chart on the left shows World Cafe’s carriage on full-time Triple A music stations in Nielsen PPM markets. Of the 13 stations for which data is available, World Cafe’s daily two-hour show is heard on 8 (62%). Six of the eight stations now carrying World Cafe schedule the program in low-listening late-night hours.

World Cafe also air on a number of dual format stations in medium and smaller markets. No other nationally syndicated program even comes close to World Cafe’s national footprint on Triple A stations.

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