Ensuring Music is in our Lives

On May 6-7, 2019, music stations across public radio gathered for the first-ever convening of the noncomMUSIC Alliance, a new cross-format organization of more than one hundred jazz, rock, classical, alternative, Americana, eclectic, and mixed-format radio stations. Held just before the annual Triple A NON-COMM gathering in Philadelphia, the meeting drew some 125 participants from radio stations across the United States.

The meeting opened with a new report on recent research, its findings informed by a survey of 85 music stations and by aggregating listening data from partner stations. Data from the report show that 734 public radio stations feature music as a primary or significant part of their programming, reaching more than 20 million people weekly. These stations want to exert their influence within both public radio and within local and national music ecosystems. They’ve decided to work together on policy issues of mutual concern, particularly those around music rights.

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Another highlight of the convening was a panel on programming. Louisville’s WUOL station leader Daniel Gilliam, Bill Robinson from Philadelphia’s WRTI, and Michael Bracy, co-founder of the Music Policy Forum, engaged in a spirited discussion, led by Peter Dobrin of the Philadelphia Inquirer, of ideas and examples showing ways that music radio can be an indispensable partner in community engagement, in the health of local music ecosystems, and in ensuring that diverse and new music—and the artists that create it—are offered exposure and the support to reach new audiences.

Like their news station colleagues, public radio music stations are evolving from local broadcasters to local cultural hubs, offering a wide variety of programs and services that connect artists, audiences, and communities.

“Music is like air, like water; it’s something we can’t live without,” said WRTI’s Bill Johnson. Through the new Music Alliance, dozens of local leaders are working together to be sure there will always be music in your life—for free.