Festival Coverage

Moogfest Spotlight: Radio & the Radiophonic

While performances by Grimes, ODESZA and Son Lux might be capturing the excitement of some festival-goers, this year’s Moogfest is promising to be much more. Music is really just one aspect of this festival billed as “the synthesis between music, art and technology.” It explores all types of audio, from performance to podcasts.

In “Radio & the Radiophonic,” the series taking place on May 20 and 21, the history and future of radio are the topics of conversation. From Ira Glass’ “This American Life” to Marc Maron’s interview with President Obama in a garage, radio is an important tool in the world of communications today. With live podcast recordings and conversations with the movers and shakers reinventing radio, this series provides Moogfest attendees the chance to plumb the depths of new and exciting audio, away from Motorco Park.

The first day of the series will start with a Soundwalk, a chance for festival-goers to realize that the world around them is already full of interesting soundscapes; not all innovative sound comes from a Moog synthesizer.

Immediately following, a gathering of the most interesting minds in radio and podcasting are coming together to discuss how the traditions of radio have created the audio landscape we know today.

An artist of note in this session: Kaitlin Prest, host of Radiotopia’s “The Heart.” Her work innovates not only audio storytelling, but how women and men talk about sex, love and everything in between. A good primer on her work is an episode of the first season of “The Heart,” when she explores the life of one of the first recipients of sex reassignment surgery, Lili Elbe.

Friday afternoon, an audiophile’s dream becomes reality when Hrishikesh Hirway sits down with ODESZA to break down one of their songs. The acclaimed Song Exploder podcast sits down with artists and has them explain each bass line, each snare, each high hat, and all the odds and ends of a particular song. Check out Sylvan Esso explaining how “Coffee” came to be.

Saturday in the series begins with another live recording of a podcast, No Effects. Listen and learn as Jesse Holter talks with two artists about their lives, their work, what makes them tick and what makes them cry in his longform interview.

Innovation in audio is so much more than music; it’s also in the ways that we communicate and learn, and radio is at the forefront. This series promises to be one of the most interesting and human ones at Moogfest.

And who knows, maybe it’ll help you become the next Ira Glass.

You can find more information and a complete schedule at

– Mirtha Donastorg, former WKNC Co-Public Affairs Director