Although one of the official Web pages for Folksong Festival can no longer keep up, with content dated from three years ago, 93-year-old show host Oscar Brand has no such problems. Tonight at 10 p.m. on the AM side of public radio station WNYC, the folk legend will log the first show of a 68th, continuous, record-breaking year.
Of interest is the fact that this latest anniversary of a program that got rolling in 1945 is not news. The only real coverage we can find is an item from Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Michael Sangiacomo, himself something of a media survivor. (Although Sangiacomo might want to get the paper to fix the Web headline; it makes it sound like Brand has been hosting his weekly program only since the summer of 2012.)
Maybe there’s an interview with Brand set to appear in a Sunday paper somewhere, or an AARP magazine feature upcoming. We certainly hope so. Just the fact that this man has never taken a penny of radio show salary could, ahem, be interestingly tied in to what’s going on across the media landscape today. In the meantime, from the WNYC announcement:
During America’s harsh anti-Communist witch hunt era (1947-early 1960s), when many progressive artists were blacklisted and couldn’t find work, Folksong Festival was the only radio show in the country where they could appear and sing their songs. Oscar is grateful to WNYC that they never asked him to change his format or the “controversial” guests on his show during that lamentable era of America’s history.
Happy anniversary, Mr. Brand! We salute the latest milestone of your incredible run and lapping of something called vinyl.
To whet everyone’s appetite for tonight’s broadcast, here’s archived audio from a Christmas Folksong Festival episode broadcast December 25, 1949:
And here’s a holiday-themed, all-request installment that followed soon after on January 15, 1950, featuring The Weavers and Woody Guthrie. The performance that starts at the 7:50 mark (“The Santa Claus Blues”) is definitely a FishbowlNY favorite:
Previously on Mediabistro:
94-Year-Old San Francisco Chronicle Science Editor Still Going Strong