Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Morning Edition Host Mitch Wertlieb reveals his inspiration for musical moments

Every day, VPR receives at least one email that reads something like this, "Right before 8 o'clock this morning, I heard this great piece of music. Can you tell me what that was?" Morning Edition Host Mitch Wertlieb explains...

"I have no shame admitting that my origins in radio stem from a stint as a late-night DJ for my college radio station, and to this day I have a real passion for all kinds of music. As a journalist and Morning Edition host, I don’t think my passions for news and music must always be mutually exclusive. When I look at the stories, interviews, and commentaries we have coming up on Morning Edition each day, a little trigger will sometimes go off, and that DJ voice inside my head says “Hey, wouldn’t this or that song be a nice complement coming out of this story?”

I remember one of our commentators once voicing a thoughtful essay about how important it is for hikers to remember that sedge grass on some of Vermont’s mountaintops is very sensitive and vulnerable to being trampled on by less-than-aware visitors, so following that piece I played a snippet of the Elvis Costello song “You Better Watch Your Step.”

Many other times I try to weave some appropriate acoustic guitar music or a contemplative jazz piece after a story to enhance and reflect on the meaning of what we’ve just heard. But most of the time, for the local breaks in the show I just like to play bits of some of my favorite music. It’s the same as the music I listen to at home or on long road trips in the car.

This has led to a very pleasant outpouring of correspondence from listeners who share my love for the music of the late great Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, as well as music by Vermont’s own Phish, Guagua, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. You’re also likely to hear a healthy dose of jazz by McCoy Tyner, and funk by bands like Soulive and The Meters.

The news can often be difficult to take, and sometimes music—even in brief excerpts—can provide a kind of respite to remind us of one of the great joys of life that’s universally shared. I’m grateful that VPR allows me the opportunity to express my musical tastes, and that so many VPR listeners have responded and shared their own as well."

Mitch Wertlieb

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