Information + images provided by Jennifer Goss, Finance Director at UA Little Rock Public Radio
Ahead of the highly anticipated Block, Beer & Bourbon fundraiser, get to know a little more about the host, Friends of KLRE/KUAR, and the front man for the headlining act Rodney Block Collective, Rodney Block.
About UA Little Rock Public Radio
Forty years ago, in 1977, a group of public radio listeners banded together to form the Friends of KLRE to support the new public radio station licensed to the Little Rock School District. In the years since the group’s founding, the Friends board led fundraising efforts to increase the broadcast signal power and become a member of National Public Radio. In 1986, after the Little Rock School District and UA Little Rock formed a partnership to co-license a new station, KUAR, the association became the Friends of KLRE/KUAR.
Today KLRE FM 90.5 carries Classical music 24/7 and KUAR FM 89.1 carries news, music and cultural programming. National shows like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Car Talk and Fresh Air and locally produced shows like Not Necessarily Nashville, 52nd Street Jazz and Arts and Letters have been part of the cultural fabric of Central Arkansas for decades. Known collectively as UA Little Rock Public Radio, the stations provide a unique public service for a market of our size with two stations—one for music and one for news.
2017 marked another milestone for public radio as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act that created much of the structure that makes public radio and television possible today, including establishment of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Public radio’s history and future as a public service that informs, educates and entertains over 85,000 people each week will be celebrated at a fundraising event on January 11th, 2018 at the Junior League of Little Rock.
About Block, Beer & Bourbon
The January 11th event will be the second Block, Beer & Bourbon event hosted by the Friends of KLRE/KUAR. “Last year’s event was kind of like a house party,” says KLRE/KUAR Interim General Manager Nathan Vandiver. “It was such a fun event that we wanted to open up the experience to a bigger group. So this time we’ll be at the Junior League of Little Rock building.” While Rodney Block and the Rodney Block Collective play their own brand of jazz and funk, guests will get to enjoy fare from The Pantry and a specially curated selection of beers and bourbons from O’Looney’s Wine and Liquor. “Along with Rodney, O’Looney’s and The Pantry are generous supporters of public radio and fantastic partners in this event for the second year in a row. We’re excited to showcase their delicious offerings,” says Vandiver.
A new offering for this year’s event is a VIP reception (6:00 – 7:00 p.m.), where VIPs will enjoy an extraordinary sampling of rare and premium bourbons and beers while visiting with friends, supporters and staff of public radio and special guest, Rodney Block.
Get VIP ($150) and General Admission ($75) tickets at KUAR.org or call 501-569-8485.
Rodney Block is front man for the Rodney Block Collective, the headliners for the January 11th Block, Beer & Bourbon, but he’s also an active member of The Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board.
IA: What does public radio mean to you?
RB: It’s a necessity, to keep everything objective. Whether it’s political, social, environmental, religious, etc., it’s a necessity to have real facts and thoughtful perspective on these various issues and not to have this pro/con slant.
IA: Is there a particular moment that stands out to you when you “discovered” public radio?
RB: For years, after a late night gig, I would always listen to the jazz program hosted by the late Bob Parlocha. I truly enjoy those in-depth features on jazz artists, along with the music playlist with commentary from Bob. It was a great way to unwind but with this cool educational component, too.
IA: What do you love about being on the Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board?
RB: I truly believe in the mission of the stations, and I enjoy working with the people (other board members) who believe in the importance of public radio.
IA: What is your favorite “driveway moment?”
RB: Pretty recent experience, and it’s my new favorite “driveway moment.” Spike Lee, an African-American movie director, discussing his latest projects and some reflections about his career on FRESH AIR. It was so good and amazing! I was texting people to tune-in so they could catch some of the show! Thanks to my friend KB, who is an avid KUAR fm listener, for calling me to make sure I didn’t miss it!
IA: You play a lot of shows, what are you most looking forward to about Block, Beer & Bourbon?
RB: I’m looking forward to sharing music with other people who love public radio just as much as I do. It’s an added plus that it’s a bourbon tasting too!
IA: Beer or bourbon?
IA: Who is your musical muse and why?
RB: Miles Davis (trumpet) will always be my top influence, because he was an icon in music and trends; always evolving but always being Miles. When I think of “cool” or “what is cool?” I think of Miles Davis.
IA: What drew you to specialize with the trumpet, as opposed to a different instrument?
RB: Funny story, my brother started on trumpet, he was a grade ahead of me in school. He didn’t take to the trumpet, so he decided to quit. My mom and father told me the next year if I wanted to play in band then I was going to have to play the trumpet they had previously purchased for my brother. They were not going to by another instrument anytime soon! I guess it worked out pretty well for me and them – ha!
IA: How has music shaped your own life?
RB: Music has taught me that we all have “common grounds.” Music connects us all in spite of the barriers that exists. It’s the perfect language…it’s spiritual – it’s a love supreme.