Interlochen Public Radio showcases classical music for northwestern Michigan through a variety of programs.
Kids and adults in northwest Michigan get a morning dose of classical music in a fun and entertaining way during their morning commute thanks to Interlochen Public Radio (IPR)‘s morning feature Kids Commute.
The show is IPR’s unique, well-disguised effort to push back against classical music’s reputation of boring practice sessions and starchy recital clothing, and embark kids on a lifetime love of music. It airs weekdays at 7:40 a.m., when most young students are being driven to school by grownups who are regular listeners of the public radio station.
“I always had to listen to what my mom listened to – usually Barry Manilow,” said host Kate Botello, IPR personality and Emmy-winning television host. “I had friends listening to the station on the way to work with their kids in the car, too. That’s how the show started – as a specific moment for young people. There’s this idea out there that classical performances are something you attend with your back straight, hands folded in your lap. But composers want you to participate, to set your mind free. It’s not fancy, it’s just music.”
Every week of Kids Commute has a special theme such as mermaids, operas or elephants that builds up to a Friday quiz with music-themed prizes. The show presents classical music as very much alive, pointing to its influences, such as the show’s week-long focus on television and film composer Danny Elfman who incorporated classical music into his works for Pee-wee Herman’s Big Adventure, Edward Scissorhands, and The Simpsons.
IPR makes sure that classical isn’t just for kids, but for all Interlochen residents. Musicians visiting the Interlochen Center for the Arts and its world-renowned annual arts camps occasionally shuttle over to the station to introduce themselves and perform for their new local classical music fans on “In Studio A With.” IPR’s programming invites the community to collaborate with its most popular program for adults, Music By Request.
The grownups at IPR are proud that Kids Commute, like all of the station’s programs, brings classical music to listeners within a two-hour radius in small towns and rural areas of northwest Michigan.
“This feels more like a vocation than a job,” says Botello. “We couldn’t do this kind of program anywhere else.”