WXPN and World Cafe Celebrate 20 Years of Musical Discovery

Author: Kim Junod, C’00, MSW C’04

The Penn community has something to be excited about this October. A great piece of our University’s history and culture is turning 20! WXPN’s flagship program the World Cafe with David Dye is celebrating two decades programming all month long. I think all Penn students, faculty, staff and alumni will be surprised to know just how special this program truly is to our community.

The World Cafe has brought something really special to our campus. We house public radio’s leading popular music program. That’s pretty awesome considering that the program first aired out of WXPN’s original location which was a converted row home on 39th and Spruce and was distributed to only five radio stations throughout the country. Today, the program is produced in XPN’s beautiful facility at 30th and Walnut Streets and is nationally syndicated to more than 230 radio stations.

The show has been responsible for bringing so many musical legends to our neck of the woods. Elvis Costello paid a visit to our old station and had to borrow a keyboard from the guys across the street at Pi Lam fraternity. David Dye has interviewed legends like Herbie Hancock, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Steve Miller, Tim Robbins, (Penn alum) John Legend, Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson, and Michael Stipe all right on our campus! Now how many Universities can say that!?

We’ve also had many major artists visit the XPN studios for a World Cafe session at the start of their careers. Some of our first timers include Sheryl Crow, Ray LaMontagne, Feist and Adele. Thanks to the World Cafe, the Penn community has some great bragging rights and can say that we heard them first. To check out some more of our first timers, you can visit our 20th anniversary webpage.

WXPN and the World Cafe have served as great learning experiences for many Penn students through their internship program. I started working at XPN as an intern and a few of my colleagues are also Penn grads who started as interns, including our World Cafe line producer Beth Warshaw-Duncan. It’s been an exciting journey working on the World Cafe and I encourage Penn students to continue getting involved with our internship program- if you are interested you can find more info on the internship program here.

Now for the fun stuff… We’re having a month-long party over at XPN and we want you to celebrate the milestone with us!

You can tune into our show Monday through Friday from 2-4 PM to hear some fascinating programming that features the best interviews and artists that have appeared on the show.  You can also visit our home on the NPR Music site to check out these themed programs that we have been broadcasting throughout October or to hear a mix of songs recorded for the World Cafe over the last twenty years. If you love these one-of-a-kind performances, we have created a 20 song sampler for the taking here.

WXPN's Host, David Dye

As much as we are looking back, we are also looking forward. We would love to share another sampler with you- 20 bands we have chosen as up-and-coming talent as a part of our daily World Cafe: Next feature.  You can grab that music here.

We’re going to culminate our month-long celebration during the World Cafe Weekend Celebration from Friday, October 28 through Sunday, October 30 at World Cafe Live. We have some amazing artists coming to visit and pay tribute to the show and David. Throughout the weekend, you can catch performances by the Indigo Girls, John Hiatt, The Little Willies, Feist, Dawes, Amos Lee, Rhett Miller and Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks. It’s going to be a blast and we hope you that you can join us. Click here to learn more about the event and buy tickets!

We hope to keep the World Cafe going for another 20 years! We thank all of our fans and the Penn community for supporting us and helping us grow. As a listener supported station, we literally couldn’t have done it without you.

 For more information on what’s happening during the anniversary month, click here. We sincerely hope that you’ll be able to join us as we celebrate this milestone and thank you for your continued support!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Fine Art, Guest blogger, The Arts, The Arts at Penn

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