Let There Be Music

Mar 1, 2015

I’ve written several times recently about the important role public radio plays in delivering in-depth, fact-based contextual journalism to citizens.

Perhaps less prominent and appreciated nationally is the compelling work public radio stations like JPR perform every day to help craft a dynamic and vibrant music scene within the communities they serve.  The simple truth is that music in America would sound very different without public radio.

Local public radio stations take creative risks, nurture new talent, and give emerging artists an opportunity to be heard. They celebrate traditional music genres like classical music, and partner with local music organizations to advance their work in communities across the U.S.  And they play a key role in local music economies, furthering the careers of musicians by connecting them to listeners who value music as a vital element of daily life.

The Barr Brothers' Live Session in JPR's Studio C
Credit Dominic Barth

Local public radio stations provide a rare platform for artists whose work does not fall within the narrow parameters of other broadcast outlets and streaming services. Each year, JPR sorts through thousands of recordings to bring you the best music we can find. We don’t rely on algorithms to develop playlists, but real people who love music to curate content. And we help deepen appreciation and understanding of music by providing interesting context about artists and the craft of creating music through live sessions and interviews.

Did you know...?

  • Nationally public radio stations air 5.2 million hours of music each year.  JPR’s two music services, Classics and News and Rhythm and News, combined broadcast 12,844 hours of music annually.
  • More than 40 percent of nationwide listening to public radio is for music programming.
  • Nearly 200 public radio stations nationwide play music full time, and over 660 public stations include music as part of their programming lineup.  85% of classical radio stations in the U.S. are public radio stations. JPR’s Classics and News Service has programmed classical music as part of its schedule since 1969 when our first station, KSOR, was a tiny 10-watt station hardly reaching the north end of Ashland.
  • Public radio stations nationally host more than 7,500 in-studio music performances, and more than 4,000 community performances each year.  During the last year alone, JPR has presented more than 50 live sessions and sponsored dozens of live concert performances throughout the region.

JPR listeners know first-hand the critical role that our two music services have played in the music culture of our region.  Indeed, while many stations around the country have abandoned music programming, music on JPR continues to be broadly listened to and supported — even in the midst of the multitude of digital platforms that have evolved competing for listeners’ time and attention.  It’s this support that enables the music programs we create and broadcast each day to survive and flourish, preserving America’s rich musical traditions while fostering and nurturing the development and discovery of emerging music and artists.

Paul Westhelle is JPR’s Executive Director.