SALISBURY, MD---When John Kalb moved from Michigan to become an English professor at Salisbury University he quickly realized there was one thing missing. He could not find the music that he was used to listening to on the radio, in venues or even in music stores. After about a year of complaining, he said he decided to do something about it and proposed a new show to Public Radio Delmarva.
This month, Kalb’s Saturday night program, “Just Folks” celebrates its 15th anniversary. The contemporary folk music program first aired on WSCL 85.9-FM on December 21, 1991. “It is three hours of the very best contemporary folk music; not a lot of talking, just a lot of music,” Kalb said.
Artists commonly featured by Kalb on the program include Greg Brown, Bruce Cockburn, Maura O’Connell, Cheryl Wheeler, Tim O’Brien and Nanci Griffith. On one recent Saturday, he played a full hour of Van Morrison as a tribute to the singer’s 60th birthday. “I hope listeners enjoy the music and feel the urge to scour CD stores and websites looking for it,” he said. “I hope they contact me if they want to hear more or less of something and I hope they want to come back and listen again and again.”
As the host, the disc jockey and the guy who puts it all together, Kalb said he spends about seven hours outside of the studio preparing for the broadcast each week. The tunes he plays are all hand-selected from variety of sources. Some are well-known favorites, while others come from sampler CD’s sent to the station. A few new artists are discovered through a partnership with Sing Out! Magazine. “I always enjoyed making interesting mixes of songs from LP’s or CD’s and now I get to do that for whoever is listening to the radio,” he said.
When Kalb proposed the show he had no experience with radio. It has become his hobby, something he does for fun, and he has learned everything along the way. He recalls the first time he spoke live on the air and knows some listener, somewhere heard his very, very quiet first words introducing the station. “It took a long time to get comfortable in front of a microphone,” he said. The original two-hour program sometimes included artist interviews.
Fred Marino, retiring general manager, said 'Just Folks' has a very loyal audience, a result of Kalb's love of the music and his ability to invite listeners to enjoy it with him. "When a host looks forward to creating each program and shares that pleasure, listeners respond," Marino said. "John has been doing that, as a volunteer, since his first broadcast and his audience continues to respond 15 years later."
Kalb plans to commemorate the show’s anniversary with a special broadcast on Saturday, December 9, that takes a look back at some favorite new releases of the past 15 years. On Saturday, December 16, he will play only new music recorded or discovered since the year 2000.
To hear Kalb’s broadcast on any Saturday night, tune in to WSCL 89.5-FM or its sister station, WSDL 90.7-FM, from 8-11 p.m. “Just Folks” can also be heard streaming live online at www.publicradiodelmarva.net. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.