"Just like diversity in music is important, diversity of voices and perspectives is important. NPR realized there was a need, and that's how I got into broadcasting," says Terrance McKnight, music producer for Georgia Public Broadcasting Radio (GPB), and whose deep, warmly resonant voice can be heard as host of "Studio GPB."
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, McKnight was straight out of graduate school teaching at Morehouse College part time when, in early 1999, National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., tapped him to be the very first resident of their Classical Music Diversity Initiative Program.
Rather than teach a broadcaster about music history and theory, McKnight says, "They wanted somebody who knew music and [to whom] they could teach broadcasting. I was a huge public-radio listener, so the purpose fit."
For most Atlantans, GPB Radio is public broadcasting's best-kept secret. While the city has long received GPB-TV's signal, the GPB radio stations are all located outside of Atlanta. "There are some hot spots," McKnight says. "I live in East Point, and just happened to buy a home where I can get our signal." But there are now other ways for inside-the-Perimeter Atlantans to listen: via Internet streaming or through SAP-enabled cable TV.
"There aren't many African-Americans on the radio who talk about orchestral and [classical] concert music," McKnight says. "There are more of us out there as performers. So I feel an obligation, a duty, to do what I do. I want those little kids who may feel ostracized from that music to hear somebody who may sound like their dad talking about Beethoven and Mozart, and feel ownership of that music because of what they hear through me."
Terrance McKnight's program "Studio GPB" airs Mon.-Wed., 8-10 p.m., and his "Studio GPB Sessions," co-hosted by Sarah Zaslaw, airs Thurs., 8 p.m., and again on Sun., 10 p.m. www.gpb.org.