'It’s so much fun to see, in real time, where listeners are tuning in from' - Stuart Brown interview
If there is one thing that theatre fans love doing other than actually watching shows, it’s listening to show tunes and after the closure of Encore Radio, us fans have been turning to Magic at the Musicals and Box Office Radio for our fill of musical theatre soundtracks. But there is another option if you are looking for a new radio station to listen too, and that is SoundsofBroadway, run by Connecticut based radio host and theatre critic Stuart Brown.
SoundsofBroadway launched in 2019 and is free to listen to online 24/7, what more could we want?
I was able to talk to Stuart Brown all about the radio station and his career.
Could you please tell us about your radio station ‘Sounds of Broadway’?
Sounds of Broadway - http://soundsofbroadway.com/ - was created in march 2019. It is a free, 24/7 online Broadway radio station playing the best of Off-Broadway, Broadway, and the London Stage. I play well-known and familiar songs as well as selections from obscure shows. There is so much great music from these musicals. There are over 5,000 songs in the Sounds of Broadway database from nearly 650 shows and I am constantly adding new cast recordings to my playlists.
What inspired you to launch the radio station?
I had been involved in college radio since my undergraduate years in the mid 1970’s. After finishing my degree, I hosted a one-hour Broadway programme for 25 years at a local college. I have always dreamt of owning my own radio station and with the advances in technology, it is now possible to easily do so. With Sounds of Broadway, I get to program a show with music 24 hours a day as opposed to one hour each week.
I see that you are theatre critic as well as running the radio station, do the shows that you see inspire the playlists on your radio show?
I have been attending Broadway shows since 1973 when I was a sophomore in high school. The first musical I saw on my own was the original production of Grease (where I paid less than $8 for an orchestra seat). Since then, I have seen hundreds of musicals which, again, allows me to give a personal perspective on many of the selections I play.
How does it feel to know that your radio station has listeners from all over the world?
Thrilling. Exciting. Unbelievable. It’s so much fun to see, in real time, where listeners are tuning in from. Who would have thought that someone in Nepal likes Broadway music. I have a huge following in South America.
Do you have a favourite musical?
I’m always asked this question. I can’t say what is my absolute favourite musical, but I have a Top five, in no particular order. All my choices are the original productions. Casting is so key. For example, I saw Enter Laughing off-Broadway over ten years ago. Every performer was so perfect in their role. When I saw the recent revival, it was not as enjoyable. The cast was just not as good. Here is my list in alphabetical order
An American in Paris
Come From Away
Do you find that having a podcast as well as the radio show reaches more listeners and brings in more listeners to your radio show?
I do hope that there is some synergy between my podcast, On Broadway - https://broadwayradioprograms.com/ - and radio station listenership. The podcast is thematic in nature. I have focused many episodes on interviews with authors of recently published books on some aspect of musical theatre. I am also working with the author Rick Pender – he wrote the Stephen Sondheim Encyclopaedia – in presenting every Sondheim musical. We discuss each show and also play selections from the musical. So far, we have reviewed six of his shows.
The podcast is on hiatus until September, but I am taping episodes during the summer. Here are some of the upcoming Fall podcasts
· Interview with Tom Moore and Ken Waissman, the original director and producer of Grease, on their book – GREASE: Tell Me Moore, Tell Me Moore – which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the musical
· Interview with Rob Scheider on his book, Fifty Key Stage Musicals
· Interview with Professor Dominic McHugh of the Universiry of Sheffild on his book The Big Parade: Meredith Willson’s Musicals from ‘The Music Man’ to ‘1491’.
Can you tell us about your career as a theatre critic?
I have been reviewing shows for over 25 years. I have a blog – Stu on Broadway https://stuonbroadway.blogspot.com/ - where I post my critiques of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. I am a member of the Outer Critics Circle, which is one of the main critic groups in New York City. This allows me to see the shows Off-Broadway and on Broadway.
I am also president of the Connecticut Critic’s Circle, so I see dozens of professional productions in the state. In all, I attend between 60-70 shows a year between Connecticut and New York.
What is your favourite thing about running ‘Sounds of Broadway’?
Before I recently retired, I was a Dean at one of the campuses of the University of Connecticut for 32 years. As an educator, I enjoy teaching. Running ‘Sounds of Broadway’ gives me the opportunity to educate listeners about musical theatre, especially with the lesser known shows.
I also love interacting with listeners. I always respond to emails – my address is Stuart@SoundsofBroadway.com - within 48 hours. I encourage all types of feedback. I have incorporated a number of suggestions into our format. For example, Curtain Up, where I play a complete cast recording from Overture to Finale, was suggested by a listener.
I would like to thank Stuart for taking the time to answer my questions and wish him the very best with the radio station, which you can listen to here http://soundsofbroadway.com/
You can also find lots of theatre games on the Sounds of Broadway website here https://soundsofbroadway.com/fun-games/