by Brian Black
WVTF Public Radio has named Steve Brown as its new music director. Since October 2011, Brown has hosted the weekday “Morning” and “Afternoon Classics” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., “a lengthy announcing schedule by any broadcasting standards,” said WVTF Program Director Rick Mattioni.
In his role, Brown now programs all the classical music for the weekdays and Saturday afternoons. In addition, Brown updates the playlists that appear on the WVTF website and maintains the music library. He posts to the station’s Facebook page and takes calls from listeners. He is also the producer and host of the live broadcasts of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra (RSO) and “Inside the Music”podcasts. He will also continue to serve as the director of public service announcements.
“Steve Brown’s expertise in broadcasting, his encyclopedic knowledge of classical music, and his artistic activities in the community make him the perfect music director, producer, and host of WVTF’s classical music programs,” says Mattioni.
Brown found his way to WVTF in 2001, when the station was still broadcasting from a much smaller studio before the construction of the new broadcast center on Kingsbury Lane. Before joining WVTF, he worked in the Office of Sponsored Programs at Virginia Tech.
During his time at the station, his responsibilities and time on the air has changed. “I started ‘Afternoon Classics’, had the ‘Classical Encounter’ show for five years, co-hosted the RSO concerts with Bill Svec. [Seth Williamson’s] passing has been the greatest change I’ve experienced at WVTF. Of course, I’d rather not have come into this position as I did. Seth Williamson was rightly an extraordinarily popular personality, a remarkable person with an incredibly wide base of knowledge and interests. I can’t – nobody could take his place,” says Brown.
Mattioni says he feels lucky to have Brown on board. “He works very hard to make selections that reflect the full breadth of the WVTF [classical] music library of 8,500-plus CDs, which translates into roughly 70,000 individual pieces of music. I count on Steve to promote the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts and train part-time and substitute announcers. He programs, produces, and hosts a regular daily broadcast of the highest quality, and he has the extraordinary ability to maintain that quality and control when faced with unexpected regional and national breaking news, local and regional emergency information, and critical weather and traffic reports.”
“Steve’s knowledge, insight, and clarity make him the perfect host for our audio podcast series. He can go head to head with anyone when it comes to discussing music, and much more,” says Rodney Overstreet, marketing director of the RSO.
RSO and Long Island Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor David Stewart Wiley says, “We are undeniably blessed to have a person of Steve Brown’s understanding and passion for the orchestral repertoire at the helm of our beloved WVTF’s classical music programming. As the conductor of the RSO, it has been a real benefit for me to have Steve host and produce our live performances, rebroadcasts, and the “Inside the Music” podcasts.”
Steven White, Metropolitan Opera conductor and artistic advisor for Opera Roanoke, says, “The advantage of having Steve Brown serve as WVTF’s music director is that he is a fabulous musician, conductor, and composer himself, and he knows the music inside and out.”
Brown remarks, “I’m really enjoying it. I try to pick upbeat major key stuff primarily, especially in the morning, but I can get adventurous. I love introducing good but unknown composers and works. That’s the great thing about this music, no matter how much you know, there’s always something new. Personally, I love Beethoven, Haydn, big romantic piano concertos and symphonies, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
“I’m just doing my best, playing music that I like and that I know other people enjoy, and want to listen to,” says Brown. “I try and balance favorites with new works that are worthy of attention, and I hope the fact that I really love this music comes through to the listeners.”
Brown served 21 years in the U.S. Navy. During his time in the service he worked in broadcasting and served as a choir director. He also did a stint at WUWF Public Radio in Pensacola, Fla.
Brown is active in local theater and serves as associate conductor and unofficial composer in residence for the Blacksburg Community Band. His original body of work in music and theatre includes five musicals, three plays, and hundreds of compositions that have been performed by orchestras and bands both locally and around the world.
Brown resides in Christiansburg with his wife, Maureen, and children. For more information visit WVTF.org.