A Brief History
Although WXPN's FM history begins in 1945, the foundation of the station that we know today started in 1986 under the guidance of GM Mark Fuerst. Fuerst began to change the station's schedule, seeking to apply some structure and continuity. In addition to new local programming, WXPN began to import programs, ranging from news and analysis to "New Wave" music, from national and international public radio networks.

Over time it started to program more and more locally, first under the guidance of David Dye, PD for a brief time 1990, who had originally come over to the station with his specialty show "Sleepy Hollow," before he would focus his efforts on a show that would become the highly successful World Cafe.
The next GM was Vinnie Curren -- who went on to become COO/EVP The Corporation For Public Broadcasting until he retired. Under his tenure Mike Morrison was originally MD and then became the next PD. When Morrison moved to Los Angeles to become PD Of KSCA, Bruce Ranes became the Assist. Station Manager for Programming and Kim Alexander became the PD. Bruce Warren was named MD. Warren was then moved up to PD in 1998 and Ranes became the Assist. Station Manager for New Initiatives before his exit in 2000. Warren would eventually become Assoc. GM of Programming. Roger LaMay became the station’s third GM in 2003.

At the time of Warren’s elevation to PD, the on-air staff had been with the station a long time, including Macheala Majoun (who did the morning show (5-10a) for 25 years until 2015), APD Helen Leicht in middays (10a-2p) (she recently celebrated 40 years on Philadelphia radio), World Cafe (airing 2-4p) was hosted by David Dye (who was producer and host for 25 years), afternoons (4-7p) were also hosted by Dye, then Jim McGuinn and finally taken over by OM/MD Dan Reed, who has been with the station since 2004. The evenings start with the award-winning show, Kid’s Corner, hosted by Kathy O’Connell (7-8p). After a number of hosts through the years, Eric Schuman is now holding down the night shift.

In August 2006, WXPN launched an indie rock format on its HD2 channel, branded as "Y-Rock on XPN," featuring on-air personalities originally from Philadelphia commercial radio station WPLY (WPLY owner Radio One had ended its ten-year alternative rock format in 2005). Y-Rock programmer Jim McGuinn came over to the station at that time, before moving to Minneapolis to program KCMP (The Current).

The station switched the HD2 programming to Singer-Songwriter and called it XPN2 for a brief period before replacing it with XPoNential Radio.
But things have begun to change in the past decade, with what Warren says, "is a time for new blood."

First, was Mike Vasilikos, who came to the station from noncomm Triple A WTMD/Baltimore in 2008, as AMD as well as a utility on-air host. "For me it's always been about the music," he says. "Our format has the unique ability to really jump out on new artists and introduce our listeners to great music that in many cases won’t be heard anywhere else. The goal is to connect listeners to artists and WXPN has the opportunity to do that every day, which I love."
Then, Kristen Kurtis took over as morning host along with news anchor Bob Bumbera in 2015. "The creative freedom I’m allowed on WXPN combined with the warm welcome and continued enthusiastic support from our listeners and members has felt like a dream,” she says. "I am the luckiest girl alive and I have to pinch myself every morning to make sure it's real. Also, to make sure I actually get up at 4am!"

After 25 years of hosting World Cafe David Dye was replaced by Talia Schlanger, who was associate producer. She has been joined by Stephen Kallao as the new associate producer.

To this day, Warren is a big believer in Triple A format within the public radio sphere saying, "I'm still amazed at how many stations in public radio don't see the opportunity, in their markets, to make a go at noncomm Triple A."
World Cafe
It was 26 years ago that WXPN served as the launching pad for a new syndicated radio program. The Corporation For Public Broadcasting had an initiative to find younger, more diverse audiences for public radio. They gave WXPN a grant to develop a show that would become World Cafe. The daily two-hour program is now distributed by NPR to more than 200 radio stations.
The host for its first 25 years was David Dye, who took his cues from the innovative programming that WXPN was delivering to Philadelphia. He broadcast a two-hour show on WXPN that was made available to other public stations around the country.

The show has served as specialty programming for some affiliates, but it has also served as a foundation for stations to adopt the then-burgeoning Triple A format - and still does to this day.

Heavy on new music and live performances coupled with an interview, the program is a major component of many artists’ effort to broaden their following and has become an influential source for music discovery. WXPN’s World Cafe studios host visits by thousands of artists for exclusive interviews, performances, and recordings, resulting in 41 ‘Live at World Cafe CDs’ and two World Cafe books. It has brought listeners to 20 musical hotspots around the globe for its “Sense of Place” series, and inspired the name of World Cafe Live, the live concert-restaurant venue owned by Real Entertainment that shares a building with WXPN.
After 25 years, in March 2017, Dye stepped down as the host, but remains a contributor (as well as host of two weekly shows on WXPN). The 25th anniversary of World Cafe was celebrated with two special concerts at World Cafe Live.

WXPN then announced that Talia Schlanger would succeed Dye as the program’s host starting in April 2017. A native of Toronto, Schlanger joined World Cafe as Contributing Host and Radio Producer in October 2016. Schlanger was previously a radio and TV journalist, producer and host for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
At the time Schlanger said, “Like our listeners, I’m here as a music fan first. Discovering, sharing and connecting over artists is our collective passion, and it’s my mission to serve that as best I can on World Cafe. David Dye is so beloved and respected because for 25 years, audiences have been able to feel the genuine curiosity, excitement and care he has for the music he plays and for the artists who make it. I know this is a big change, but I hope our devoted World Cafe crowd will feel the same degree of passion and care coming from me as we charge forward with amps blaring.”

"Talia brings great storytelling, digital fluency, and a love and knowledge of music to our marquee program,” said WXPN GM Roger LaMay. “She adds a fresh perspective to a program that continues to give new artists a national platform and audience."

Schlanger plans on bringing in new ideas to World Cafe. “There are lots of cool things we’re cooking up -- all guided by the mission to bring music fans closer to artists. Our Nashville hub is hopping thanks to features by Ann Powers, and we’ve got more Sense of Place trips in the works, so we can really dig in to the sounds of artists in their natural habitats.

“We’re getting really ambitious with producing radio pieces, bringing more sound into the mix on interviews. We’re also having fun with social media, such as Facebook live sessions.”

In December 2017, WXPN announced that Stephen Kallao was joining the program as Contributing Host, to assist in producing the program’s radio and digital special features and conduct interviews with a wide variety of musicians.

“I’m so excited to welcome Stephen to the team here at World Cafe,” Schlanger said at the time. “Not only is his passion for music infectious, but he has the experience, chops and drive to bring that passion to life on the radio. I know our listeners will love sharing in Stephen’s musical taste, and I can’t wait to do the same!”

WMOT/Nashville serves as World Cafe Nashville’s operations center under the guidance of PD Jesse Scott.
Kids Corner Celebrates 30 years
Hosted by Kathy O'Connell and produced by Robert Drake, Kids Corner is a live, call-in radio show for children that has earned over 23 broadcasting awards including a George Foster Peabody Award and a Major Edwin Armstrong Award for Creative Use of Radio.

Created in January 1988 by WXPN, Kids Corner's provides a stimulating variety of educational and entertaining programs for children ages 5-13. The show enables children to get involved in interactive segments and demonstrate their knowledge, talent and abilities. In addition, it serves as a resource for parents, educators and professionals in child-related fields.

Because Kids Corner is also a recognized leader in the airplay of “kindie” music (independently made music for kids), in 2015 WXPN and Kids Corner began presenting the biennial KindieComm to serve the kindie community with the same passion that the NON-COMMvention delivers to the Triple A radio community. The next edition of KindieComm will take place during Kids Corner’s 30th anniversary weekend (April 20-21).

Kids Corner can be heard Mondays through Thursdays from 7-8p. Further, WXPN and Elmwood Park Zoo will present The Kids Corner 30th Anniversary Concert Sunday, April 22nd at World Cafe Live. The show will also be awarded with a proclamation from the City of Philadelphia recognizing its 30-year milestone.

NEXT WEEK - PART TWO:
The Many Dimensions Of WXPN: Beyond The Broadcast Tower