There is no cooler place to be this week (if you are into AAA music, folk, blues or indie performers) than at WXPN in Philly, the home of this year’s NON-COMMvention.

War on Drugs performing

The annual gathering is a mix of arguments and debates between the most progressive non-commercial music station programmers and industry reps. Throughout the conference, there are also some astounding music performances.

Where else can you see a music writer-pundit scream and yell with audience members about what constitutes a “hit,” which performers “matter,” or what the painful arc is of performers who fade from stardom and try to grasp the magic again. That happens here at NON-COMM and it is the unvarnished passion that fuels the creativity we see and hear at great public radio stations.

Powerhouse KUT is here…and little WMHT, too. WERS from Boston and WXXI in Rochester. How they work with performers and labels matters when it comes to finding and presenting new talent in an age of music blogs and digital distributors.

I’m here for PRX not just because we present Sound Opinions, American Routes and a ton of great other music programs. But I’m also here to pick up on the trends and issues that matter to stations trying to connect with listeners in an age where iTunes and Pandora dominate.

Then there is the music. Willie Nelson just ended his incredible set while Brandi Carlile warms up. Last night War on Drugs melted the speakers while JD McPherson had everyone swaying. Bottom line: AAA is a broad swatch of listening and WXPN and NON-COMM are at the cutting edge of delivering for public radio.

Published by

John Barth

Chief Content Officer at PRX

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