If you stay up all night listening to All Classical Portland, you might be familiar with the voice of Andrea Murray, who hosts the coveted 12 to 5 am slot. During the day, Andrea can usually be found sitting at her desk wearing big headphones, busy with production for The Score and editing interviews with local artists for Northwest Previews. After midnight, she is a soothing companion for a late night spent listening to classical music.
Andrea Murray talks about how she first got into radio and tells us about some of her favorite artists and composers:
What was your first job?
How did you get into radio?
There may be two answers to this one. 1) My dad got me and my sister a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder when we were little. We used to spend a lot of time pretending we were on the radio, and creating skits that were pretty much plagiarized straight from the pages of Mad Magazine. 2) I volunteered at my first real radio station, playing new wave and punk rock records for my college campus.
Where did you grow up? What radio stations did you listen to as a kid?
I guess I spent most of my formative years in St. Louis. I don’t remember particular stations, but I remember that before the internet came along, I liked to listen to stations in other cities and countries on a shortwave radio. My parents introduced us to classic radio dramas and comedy, and we listened to recordings of a lot of those too.
Do you remember your first time on air?
I remembering feeling something like, “Oh, wow. Everything makes sense now.” For me, being on air feels more natural than real life, somehow. I’m not saying that’s a healthy thing, but there you have it.
Before coming to Portland, you worked at WETA in Washington DC, what did you do there?
I produced arts features, was a substitute classical announcer, and was host and producer of a weekly arts magazine program.
What is a typical workday for you now?
Preparing for my on-air shift; producing interviews with local artists for Northwest Previews; doing the final mix of this week’s The Score. At the moment, I’m working on a 3-part audio documentary that will be hosted by Edmund Stone about the evolution of symphonic film music. At lunchtime, I go home and let my dog, Louie, out for a quick walk.
What do you think differentiates the nighttime broadcasts from the daytime broadcasts?
I think the intimacy between audience and announcer is even more pronounced in the overnight hours. Yes, it’s daytime for our overseas listeners, and some local folks are working the third shift, while others are natural night owls. But many of my listeners are awake reluctantly – plagued by insomnia, or worry, or illness. I try to provide a sense of ease and continuity for them. I’m trying to be a good companion – polite, reassuring, pleasant – rather than a Radio Personality.
How did you get interested in Classical music? Do you play any instruments?
Music was a big part of my early life. I was extremely lucky to have parents who could afford to take us to the occasional concert, and give us music lessons. I took piano beginning in first grade, then later took flute and classical guitar. I consider myself to be a musical person, but not really a musician per se.
What are some of your favorite episodes of The Score?
My favorite so far has been the one about the music for the old b-grade horror films from England’s Hammer Studios. I’m a huge fan of classic monster films, so this was especially fun for me.
What is some of your favorite Classical music?
Ravel, Debussy, Satie, Poulenc, Arvo Part, Osvaldo Golijov, lots more.
What is some of your favorite Non-Classical music?
Nina Simone; Neko Case; Bjork; PJ Harvey; Sweet Honey in The Rock. I would give anything to be able to sing like Mavis Staples. My favorite local songwriter is Rachel Taylor Brown.
What do you do when you aren’t at the station?
Listen to music. Write poems. Volunteer at the Humane Society. I’m currently practicing ear training with an Android app I stumbled upon. And I nap like a champ.