WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Michael Black

Radio Program Manager

I was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, and grew up mostly in and around the Rochester area. I got my radio start at WBKT at Brockport High school as a sophomore, and was its station manager in my senior year in high school. I had caught the radio & TV bug. While in high school, I started working for the local commercial station in town (WWBK/WJBT). While attending SUNY Brockport, I helped build WBSU-FM, and started as an intern for WXXI-TV. I started working for WXXI in the broadcast operations area, and eventually became an online television editor. In 1985, I took a position at WHYY in Philadelphia in their engineering department, working primarily as a video editor, but also provided audio support for TV productions and for some radio productions, including NPR's Fresh Air.

In 1988, I took a position at Hobart & William Smith Colleges as station manager for WEOS, and transformed the station into a public radio service serving the Finger Lakes, including laying the ground work for WITH in Ithaca, which is on the air today. This included expanding coverage area, and increasing local programming that in some cases, went national. A lot of students I worked with have gone into the broadcast industry, including Jonas Schwartz, Chris Carlin, Josh Horowitz, and Dana Glaser, to name a few. I even dabbled in on air play-by-play sports, garnering a Media person of the year award from the USILA for lacrosse broadcasts.

In 2007, I rejoined WXXI as the radio program manager, to oversee WXXI-AM and WRUR, and work on new projects, which now include our partnership with HWS with WEOS and helping to launch WITH in Ithaca. I have a passion for public media and new music, and strive to continue to grow public media. 

I have a passion for craft beers, and actively support the local brewing community. I also am a chili-head! Bring the heat!

Ways to Connect

We have some new weekend shows and shows moved times recently, so we thought to put the changes in a quick note. As always, you can check out the current schedule at https://www.wrur.org/schedule

For 24 years, the airwaves have heard a familiar voice bringing folk music to the Rochester area and since 2010, to Ithaca and the Finger Lakes on WITH. Ray Baumler has been there since the start, a program that highlighted the folk genre in all its various forms. Along with friend, Tom Bohan alternating each week as host, the program was a regular feature of the Rochester radio scene until this past weekend. After 24 years, the program came to an end. Ray along with Sue Tennenbaum, decided to end the program.

This year’s Newport Folk Festival - one of the oldest and longest running music festivals in the world, will not happen in person. Since fans can’t be together at the Fort, Newport Folk is bringing the music to you with radio broadcasts from over 60 years of archived sets, webcast concerts, and a very special film to close the weekend.

After three months on hiatus, due to the COVID19 pandemic, Rejuvenation with Scott Wallace is back Friday nights at 6PM on Different Radio, WRUR and WITH. The three hour weekly program featuring R&B, soul, and funk has been a staple on Different Radio, and has been missed by our audience. In the interim, a program from our colleagues at WWOZ has been airing and we are grateful for their assistance to keep the music playing. 

John Peets/Courtesy of the artist

In 2017, Rhiannon Giddens  stopped by the World Cafe with her album, Freedom Highway.  On that record, she went straight to the darkest parts of history, speaking for those whose voices have often being silenced – from slaves, to the people of the civil rights movement, to contemporary victims of racism. We revisit that session again, on the next World Cafe.  

Led Zeppelin has partnered with YouTube for an exclusive streaming event of Celebration Day, the concert film chronicling the band’s historic live performance from the 2007 tribute concert for dear friend and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. Celebration Day will be streamed in its entirely for three days only on the official Led Zeppelin YouTube channel, premiering this Saturday, May 30, at 3PM ET. You can watch it here:

Music lovers are invited to celebrate the songs of John Prine with a very special LiveStream Tribute concert produced by The State Theatre of Ithaca and DSP Shows.

You Tube/NPR

The rest of the country has learned something we already knew: Danielle Ponder is a poweful force in everything she does, and musically, is perfection. Her entry into this year's NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest was tagged as one of the best entratnts.

The 30th Annual Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival scheduled for this July is postponed until next year. From their website: "Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will postpone the 30th Anniversary Celebration until July 22-25, 2021. Culture Camp is also postponed until July 18-21, 2021. The health and safety of everyone (performers, music lovers, vendors & staff) is our primary consideration and supersedes everything else.

Join Different Radio and NPR Music as we celebrate Public Radio Music Day. Tonight, singer-songwriter Steve Earle will perform in a live concert from his living room in Nashville starting at 7 PM. You can watch it online here  https://livesessions.npr.org/live/steve-earle

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