Free At Noon, And Worldwide

Rosannecash2003 When Rosanne Cash plays the World Cafe Live at noon on Friday, a much larger audience than normal will be listening.

WXPN-FM's got a new arrangement with its old partner - National Public Radio - which allows NPR's web site to stream the show as it happens, and then archive it so fans can hear it months from now.

It's one of four shows that XPN is sharing with the mothership, bringing a much larger audience to the World Cafe Live's free-at-noon Friday concerts and stocking NPR with more good audio.

For the past year, NPR has been steadily building its music cred, by offering shows by such artists as Wilco, Son Volt, Laura Viers, the Decemberists, Iron and Wine with Calexico, Sigur Ros, Death Cab For Cutie, The White Stripes and Bloc Party.

These shows have more than a million hits online.

Add to that roster Shawn Mullin, whose show last Friday kicked off the collaboration, and upcoming dates with Cash, the Wood Brothers and a fourth act to be named soon.

Maria Thomas, NPR Online's general manager and vice president, said by phone that XPN is the first radio station it has partnered with for live music, but the network has been carrying shows from the 9:30 Club and other music venues around Washington.

The World Cafe show, hosted by David Dye, was carried by Public Radio International until last July. NPR picked up its distribution then and has also been working with WXPN to create a new adult album alternative channel for high-definition digital radio.

NPR's rights to offer music from the shows differ from artist to artist. Some, such Colin Meloy, frontman for the Decemberists, have allowed the site to offer unlimited downloads of the shows. Others have Oked NPR's harvesting of the music for its All Songs Considered podcasts.

Thomas said she held hopes the World Cafe experiment would lead to more such arrangements around the country. "I think XPN is a fine example of public-radio management looking deeply at the community and their place in that community is - and then really innovating," she said. "They've got a built a community without geographic boundaries."

Bruce Warren, XPN's program director, said the two organzations had been talking about another project for months. "Of all the things we were doing, it was the stuff that was most exciting for us, and for them as well."

jay lassiter
Posted 01/31/2006 08:29:27 AM

One of the finer trappings of living in the philly area is friday lunchime free-at-noon concerts at WorldCafe at XPN. I could gush about WXPN for days, but i'll resist the urge and just say "go see for yourself!"

Posted 02/01/2006 10:02:15 AM

They're all nationally signed artists on major labels. Somebody knows what side their bread is buttered.