Celtic music comes to town on NPR

AIR CHECK

March 11, 1995|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Sun Staff Writer

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, Fiona Ritchie has finally arrived in Baltimore -- on the radio, that is.

"The Thistle & Shamrock," Ms. Ritchie's weekly dose of lilting Celtic music, began airing last weekend on WJHU-FM (88.1), and can be heard at 8 p.m. Sundays. Tomorrow's edition features the music of Wales.

Although on public radio stations across the country for 12 years and ranking as National Public Radio's most popular music offering, the hourlong show could previously be heard in this area only on Washington's WAMU-FM (88.5). It airs at 5 p.m. Sundays, but WAMU's signal is not always clearly received in Baltimore.

"Frankly, when I came I was wondering why we didn't carry it," says Chris Wienk, WJHU program director, who arrived in Baltimore last summer from Vermont.

"The Thistle & Shamrock" replaces "World's Edge," a program of New Age and experimental music Mr. Wienk said did not appear to have a large audience.

Taping from Edinburgh, Scotland, Ms. Ritchie introduces in her soft brogue a range of Scottish, Irish and other Celtic folk music. But the show's roots are in Charlotte, N.C., when the native of Greenock, Scotland, was a student volunteer on public radio station WFAE-FM.

First distributed nationally by American Public Radio, the program soon moved to NPR and now is heard on some 260 U.S. stations.

*

Speaking of next Friday's Irish holiday, check out a pair of radio observances of St. Patrick's Day:

*The "Morning Show" of WCBM-AM 680, with hosts Sean Casey and Frank Luber, originates for the seventh year from Shannon's Pub in Ellicott City, located -- where else? -- in the Village Green Shopping Center. Listeners are invited to stop by to celebrate.

*"The Don & Mike Show," heard from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on WJFK-AM (1300), has the same idea, but is taking it just a little farther: To an Irish pub in Ireland.

Hosts Don Geronimo & Mike O'Meara are scheduled to broadcast Friday from a tavern in Bantry, Ireland. On Thursday's show, they picked a lucky listener to go along, chosen from among contestants who submitted funny limericks. The satellite show will be heard on more than 30 affiliates of the Infinity Broadcasting network. The hosts tried the same stunt last year, but got only as far as Queens, N.Y., because of airline trouble.

*

NPR's "Weekend Edition," at 8 a.m. today on WJHU-FM (88.1), offers a special report commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Anne Frank, the young diarist who chronicled her family's attempt to escape the Nazi Holocaust.

*

Two Maryland radio stations have been named finalists in the annual Crystal Radio Awards competition of the National Association of Broadcasters, which salutes community service efforts. Ten winners will be announced on April 11. Maryland finalists are WBAL-AM (1090) in Baltimore, and WXTR-FM (104.1), a Waldorf station that simulcasts its signal on WZYQ-FM (103.9) in Frederick.

Until this week, the stations played oldies music, but have switched to a hits of the '70s format.

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