Open Mic Radio Roundtable: Break-through Music Programs

New York Festivals International Radio Awards celebrates the World’s Best Radio Programs from around the globe. The competition honors both radio programs and promotions in all lengths and formats from radio stations, networks and independent producers from 6 continents.

This week, Open Mic’s Radio Roundtable invited some of NYF’s creative award winners who have been recognized in 2017 for their break-through musical programs to share their thoughts.

Hee-Jung Chung, Executive Producer/Director for Korea News Network (KNN earned a Gold Trophy for Best Audio Book – Fiction for her outstanding entry “Opera in the Dark; La Bohéme-A World Premiere of Barrier-Free Opera for the Visually Impaired.”

NYF Radio: What was the goal of KNN when creating this program, and what was the result of this creative project?


Hee-Jung Chung: Opera in the dark is first-ever showcase of “Barrier-free Opera” as well as 6th special documentary broadcasting of “Barrier-free Opera.” Many of you may have questions as to how this “Barrier-free Opera” can be progressed through complete darkness. To be clear, I was not try to initiate a visually impaired ‘experience’. Being in a dark environment as one condition, I invited people to create the perfect stage in their own imaginative mind by concentrating on opera’s music. In the end, I hope to have created a new genre where everyone can experience a cultural activity through this barrier-free content. Despite having started this opera for the visually impaired, I also hope that everyone can enjoy opera as it’s not an easy genre of entertainment.

Ms. Hee Chung Accepting the NYF Gold Trophy

On September 8th, 2016, “La Bohème, Opera in the Dark”, the first barrier-free opera in Korea, was presented live for 70 minutes in complete darkness by 10 cast members including vocalists, voice actors and a pianist. The performance was successful and well received by the audience. An audience of 800 people relied only on the sounds in complete darkness and imagined their own version of La Bohème.

Raymond Meade, writer-producer, Demus Productions, Glasgow Scotland and bassist for the English rock band, Ocean Colour Scene. Raymond earned a 2017 New York Festivals Radio Awards Bronze Trophy for his compelling program created as a tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, “The Railway People.”

Raymond Meade Accepting the NYF Bronze Trophy

NYF Radio: How did you come to first meet Eva Mozes Kor and why did she agree to record your poem for the spoken word segment of your song tribute “At the Top of the Stairs?”

Raymond and Eva recording at Auschwitz

Raymond Meade: I felt a direct link to Auschwitz would give the project a lot of weight and I’d read Eva’s book a few months before I started writing the Railway People. I decided to email her and ask if she’d contribute a spoken word piece on one of the songs. She was very responsive and keen. She’d never been on a song before. She liked the idea and the approach but then went even further by suggesting we do the recording on the Selection Platform at Auschwitz Birkenau, the site where she lost her family in the gas chambers over 70 years ago. When I read that email, I had chills up my spine. I knew then that this was going to be extremely special and important. When we eventually met several months later and traveled to Auschwitz together, it was without a doubt, the most memorable thing I’ve ever been involved in. To go through those gates with an 83-year-old lady who experienced it first hand was truly mind blowing. The most humbling experience of my life.








Iarla Ó Lionáird stepped up to the podium to accept the Gold Trophy for RTÉ lyric fm/The Lyric Feature – “Vocal Chords” for Biography/Profiles for the outstanding program: “Paul Brady and Iarla Ó Lionáird in Conversation.”

Iarla Ó Lionáird Accepting the NYF Gold Trophy

Iarla is presenter of RTÉ lyric fm’s award-winning program “Vocal Chords” and lead singer for The Gloaming, the contemporary Irish music supergroup formed in Ireland in 2011.

NYF Radio: RTÉ lyric fm/The Lyric Feature – Vocal Chords earned the Gold Trophy for their outstanding programs: Paul Brady and Iarla Ó Lionáird in Conversation, to what do you attribute the success of this program?

Iarla with Paul Brady

Iarla Ó Lionáird: I think Paul Brady is a fascinating subject for a documentary about the nature of song, the art of songwriting and the personal quest to become an artist. I say this in particular because Paul came to folk music as an outsider and yet early seminal recordings which he achieved redefined Irish folk music and are seen as landmark works to this day. He then went on to record contemporary rock and pop songs several of which were recorded by major artists such as Tina Turner. So, all in all his achievement is huge and his story traverses a large chunk of 20th-century Irish music.

Mark Travis, Associate Director of Media, Production for New York Philharmonic earned a Gold Trophy (Director) for “Celebrating the 175th Anniversary Season” as well as a Gold Trophy for Music and a Bronze Trophy for Best Director for “Zubin Mehta at 80.” “The New York Philharmonic This Week” also took home the Silver Trophy for Best Regularly Scheduled Music Program.

Mark Travis Accepting Two NYF Gold Trophies


NYF Radio: How did the New York Philharmonic radio broadcasts first come about?

Mark Travis: The orchestra has been on the air in one form or another since 1930. The current edition came about in 2004 and it was largely the brainchild of my former boss at the WFMT Radio Network, Steve Robinson, and then-Philharmonic President, Zarin Mehta. Steve knew that live broadcasts were becoming an increasingly hard sell to the Network’s affiliates. He argued that for a similar investment, the Philharmonic could present a wider snapshot of the orchestra’s season and everyone would win. The musicians could relax knowing that any imperfections on a given night could be cleaned up and member stations now had a show that could reliably occupy and fill a 2-hour time slot. Listenership almost doubled when we went to that format, so Zarin encouraged us to increase the number of broadcasts from 39 to 52 for the 2005/06 season. Listenership doubled again when we better stabilized a hard running time for the program with judicious use of fill music and it jumped considerably again when Alec Baldwin signed on to host the series in 2009.

Dick Golden, Host and Producer of  the award-winning program “American Jazz: Tribute to Genius” (University of Maryland University College (UMUC) & George Washington University) earned the NYF Gold Trophy this June 2017.

Dick Golden Accepting the NYF Gold Trophy

NYF Radio: What was the process in curating the music and stories to be featured in this celebration of the music lives and legacies of the jazz greats, Louis Armstrong and Tony Bennett?

(Left to Right) Tony Bennett with Dick Golden

Dick Golden: For the past 40 years I’ve produced and hosted radio programs that feature American standards and jazz. So much of the traditional jazz repertoire is made up of American standards and this is the intersection I’ve focused on my programs. I’ve never tired of studying the lives of the composers and artists. Tony Bennett, an NEA Jazz Master and this year’s recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize, has been an essential part of our programs and I’ve had the pleasure of many interviews with him and some of that material became a part of the first hour of “Tribute to Genius”.

Louis Armstrong has been another essential artist in my radio career. In 2001, I was Senior Producer for a 13-hour NPR tribute to Louis and the research and interviews with eminent jazz musicologist Gary Giddins and others inspired my deep appreciation for the impact Armstrong continues to have on musicians.

Louis Armstrong















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