Longtime World Café radio show host David Dye and WXPN figured it might be difficult to schedule major acts for the program’s 20th anniversary concert due to scheduling conflicts.
Still, they went after top talent.
“We really wanted to do something special, to make the show bigger than the space,” Dye said.
The host and his station believe they succeeded.
Scheduled to perform on Oct. 28-29 at World Café Live are John Hiatt, the Indigo Girls, Feist, Dawes (with a special appearance by Robbie Robertson) and The Little Willies, featuring Norah Jones, Richard Julian, Jim Campilongo, Lee Alexander and Dan Rieser.
In addition, Amos Lee will perform on Oct. 30 during a private, invitation-only event for donors to Campaign for the Music, WXPN’s $6.5 million capital campaign. Others will likely join Lee on stage.
“It’s pretty amazing. I can’t believe we got this all together,” Dye said.
WXPN (88.5 FM) is the non-commercial, member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. It offers adult album alternative music and seeks to discover new artists in rock, blues, roots and folk.
The station also produces World Café, which is syndicated by NPR and is considered public radio’s most popular music program.
The program debuted on Oct. 15, 1991, with Bruce Cockburn the first artist to appear on air. Cockburn leads the way with 12 all-time appearances, followed by the Indigo Girls with 11.
Each weekday from 2 to 4 p.m., it offers an eclectic blend of blues, rock, world, folk and alternative country music.
The show is syndicated to more than 200 markets, including New York, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Boston and Aspen, Col. The weekly listenership is about 539,000.
Dye mixes the music with artist interviews. Over the years, he has spoken to legends such as David Bowie, Dolly Parton, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, David Crosby and many more.
“I still want to talk to Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder,” he said.
The show’s popularity inspired a 32-album CD series, a book and independently owned and operated World Café Live performance venues/restaurants at 31st and Chestnut streets and in Wilmington, Del.
Dye worked locally at WMMR, WIOQ and WHYY before arriving at WXPN in 1989. Two years later, he found a niche with World Café.
“I love doing this. To be doing the same thing at the same place feels great,” he said. “We’re on more stations with more listeners and have more access to guests than ever before. Listeners really seem to love the show.”
The anniversary concerts are the first ones since Rosanne Cash headlined the 10th anniversary celebration at Verizon Hall, in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
Dye believes his show serves as an “ambassador” for the station.
At the same time, he credits listener respect for the station with playing a big role in the popularity of his show. He also likes being on in the heart of the day.
“We’re part of XPN, and XPN’s success has a lot to do with this,” he said.
Dye believes fans of the show will love the concerts later this month.
“It plays right to the heart of what we’ve been doing on the Café,” he said. “I’m hoping we get packed houses.”
Appearing on the first night will be Hiatt, the Indigo Girls and The Little Willies.
“The Friday show is strong. The Indigo Girls could be headliners on their own,” he said.
Feist and Dawes will perform on the second night.
“As soon as tickets went on sale, Feist fans picked up the first tickets right away,” he said of the popularity of Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist.
Dye is looking forward to the concerts because he doesn’t have to select the music or conduct any interviews.
“I get to kick back and enjoy the shows,” he said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A World of fun …
WXPN will celebrate the 20th anniversary of World Café on Oct. 28-29 at World Café Live, at 3100 Chestnut St.
The Oct. 28 concert lineup is John Hiatt, the Indigo Girls and The Little Willies, featuring Norah Jones, Richard Julian, Jim Campilongo, Lee Alexander and Dan Rieser.
The Oct. 29 concert features Feist and Dawes, with a special appearance by Robbie Robertson.
Tickets for each night cost $190 for reserved seating and $95 for general admission. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Call 215-222-1400 or visit World Café Live.
For more information, go to the WXPN Web site at www.xpn.org