Has anybody, anywhere, ever on the radio treated music with less snobbishness or all-embracing love than John Schaefer, who is celebrating five years as the host of "Soundcheck" on WNYC? Mention a Karl Weigl symphony, a didgeridoo rhapsody or a piece of vintage bluegrass to him, and chances are he has heard it, broadcast it, and interviewed the creator or performer. He does have a few gaps in his knowledge and enthusiasm, however, and to fill those in, he has a staff that includes a classical music guy, an indie rock guy, and a Brazilian producer who deals with world music.
Philip Glass once asked him whether there was any kind of music he didn't like. "I told him there are two things I won't listen to: Broadway shows and country music. As soon as I had said that, I realized that I could name three country tunes right off that I thought were really cool." John, John: don't you like anything on Broadway? Not even "Memory"?
On the face of it, a daily hour-long talk show about music that doesn't cater to any one taste group seems like an odd idea, and John was a little unsure about it when it started, too. But it's grown - and grown on him - and that 2 pm dead time now seems like the ideal slot for high adventure.
I marked the show's unlikely birthday with an article in Newsday. If you're within the WNYC listening area, you already know that it can be heard at 93.9 FM. If you're out there in that mysterious land beyond the Hudson River, you can hear "Soundcheck" on XM Satellite Radio. If you don't have a subscription or you live in, say, Talinn, the show streams to the web live and old shows are archived and available. Listen, and be enlightened.