This is a time of growth for the show, Houston's only daily in-depth look at the local arts' scene. This blog is part of an expanded web presence for the broadcast show which includes more information and resources to supplement the daily show. You'll now find more pictures, more information and more coverage of the arts in Houston here on The Front Row pages of the KUHF site.
Another obvious change to the show is that of host. I am the new host and executive producer of The Front Row, and it is a real pleasure for me to be here at KUHF and to be part of the incredible team that somehow manages to create such magic on a daily basis. [Pictured above, The Front Row team. From the left: Catherine Lu, Chris Johnson, Todd Hulslander, St.John Flynn and Bob Stevenson]
I bring to the show more than 10 years of public radio experience as a cultural affairs host, producer and manager. My particular focus generally has been on literature, but I started out in public radio as a classical music host and have always maintained that connection. However, you can expect to see a greater presence on the show for the literary arts in the future.
While I may be a new host, the best arts' journalist team in all of public radio continues to be 100% involved in the production of the show.
Producer Bob Stevenson is the engine that makes it all happen. Bob's decades of experience of production in public radio make him the paragon of the arts producer: someone who can not only pull a daily show together but makes it his business to know what's going on in every conceivable cultural corner of the Bayou City.
Associate producer Catherine "Jazz Hands" Lu is the show's go-to girl; she not only writes scripts and prepares rundowns, she also serves as back-up host and regular segment producer. You'll hear her covering dance events, authors, and, given her background as a violinist, musical performances also.
Chris Johnson serves as The Front Row's technical director. It's his job to cue the theme music, open and close the host microphone, voice the station breaks during the show, and then prepare each day's program segments for on-demand listening on the website. Of course he also pulls his weight as an interviewer covering a range of arts events but focusing especially on classical music events. Chris is also a performing violinist and can be heard as part of the KUHF Chamber Ensemble.
One of the greatest elements of The Front Row is its live performance segments featuring ensembles and individuals in the KUHF performance studio playing just for our audience.
The magic of these live performance segments doesn't just happen, it takes a considerable amount of preparation on the part of the KUHF audio staff that set up the studio for the performers and engineer the live performance during the broadcast.
The Front Row's audio engineer is Todd Hulslander who works diligently to ensure not only that all performers are miked correctly, but also to guarantee that what goes out over the air is the best it can be. As an audio engineer he is without equal and gives the show its professional sound and aura.
There are other KUHF personalities you'll hear from time to time on the show, Pulling Strings host Elaine Kennedy and Night Classics' Eric Ladau for example. They bring their substantial expertise to bear on showcasing artists from areas they know so much about.
This is the team that brings you The Front Row each weekday at 3PM on FM 88.7 HD-1 and at 10PM on HD-2.
Under the auspices of this new KUHF website, The Front Row can now expand its coverage of the arts in Houston through The Front Row blog. Look for daily postings from all of TFR contributors as they attend events around the city and beyond and prepare segments for the broadcast show. They can give you greater coverage of what’s happening across the Bayou City as well as behind-the-scenes insights that might not make it into each day’s show.
On KUHF.org you can now expect to find a more immediate perspective on what's happening artistically across Houston in addition to the regular coverage in the daily The Front Row broadcast. Look also for the website to contain extended versions of interviews featured on the show, pictures, and even on-demand video of artists as they perform live on the show in the KUHF performance studio.
Our commitment to the arts in Houston remains preeminent, and this new website promises more in-depth coverage of those things that make the heart of this city beat.
As a newcomer to Houston let me share my initial perspective on the arts in this city as we launch a new phase of arts coverage at KUHF.
I was hired recently as the new Director of Cultural Programming at KUHF. When I saw the position advertised in the industry newspaper I was excited and immediately began researching Houston from the perspective of the arts and culture.
I was suitably impressed by what I discovered: a pre-eminent symphony orchestra, world-renowned opera company, one of the country’s top ballet companies, a host of theatrical and chamber music organizations and an awful lot more.
However, what blew me away the most from a professional standpoint was that a Top 10-radio market station had assigned precious resources to the production of a daily one-hour arts magazine show (something almost unheard of within the public radio system!). My reaction was "Here is a station that has a true commitment to the arts!"
As someone who has chosen the arts as a way of life, so to speak, I understand the role the arts play not just in the life of the individual but also in the life of the community.
The creativity represented in the music, dance, acting, painting etc. of any place is the expression of its soul—the things that make it what it is in a non-material sense.
The arts are the heartbeat of what we do; they enable us to do what we do in the other realms of life: business, education, healthcare, entertainment. The arts feed our souls and create the spark that gives us life and the impetus to go out and create the communities we do.
It is the arts that, in Horatian phrase, create the "mens sana" in the "corpore sano" of the corporate world, if you will. You can't have one without the other and have a healthy community. And while no place is without its problems, it seems to me, in the brief time I've been here, that Houston has far fewer than other large U.S. cities.
A further testament to the relative health of the city is the tremendous support so many arts and cultural events receive from the public. It isn't rare to have a packed house for a musical theater production at the Hobby Center and another packed house across the street for the ballet at the Wortham Center. And both Jones Hall and the Alley Theatre are probably enjoying substantial audiences at the same time for their productions.
There is an appreciation for the arts across Houston, a level of financial and audience support not seen in many other large cities, and a desire to see and do more. The Front Row is here to document all this and, through our daily broadcast, this website and blog, to hold a mirror up to our community and say "This is who we are."
On The Front Row our commitment is to cover the breadth and depth of the Houston arts scene. We look forward to providing you with information, insight and maybe some inspiration as we fulfill our public service mission over the air and now online.
Welcome to the brand new The Front Row blog. Read it at your leisure, pass it on to others when you’ve finished and come back often. We are your expanding source for news about what's going on in the auditoriums, concert halls, galleries, parks, spaces and studios of H-town.
Thank you for giving us here at The Front Row so much to choose from!