Public radio’s ‘UnderCurrents’ to end production

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The producers of UnderCurrents, a long-running eclectic music program for public radio, will stop offering new episodes by the end of the year. 

Stations will be able to air previous episodes for the first six months of 2023, according to host and creator Gregg McVicar. McVicar said that he and Gabriela Castelán, his wife and the program’s senior producer, are retiring but will work on other projects. 

Gregg McVicar and Gabriela Castelán, producers of public radio's "UnderCurrents"
McVicar and Castelán

“You kind of reach a point where it’s like, ‘Wow, okay, we’ve really done what we set out to do,’” he said. “And how much longer do we want to do it?”

“We never have time to travel,” McVicar added. “We can do the necessary things like going to conferences, and we squeeze in a music festival or something, but we can’t get away for more than a week. That’s starting to weigh more on me.”

McVicar said he also has an “itch to work on other projects,” he said, including Indigenous YOUth Nation, a radio show for Native American and Indigenous communities.

Easing the transition

UnderCurrents debuted in 2005 as a service for Native stations but has since expanded its carriage to 208 stations. The program is produced by RadioCamp LLC and distributed by Native Voice One. 

McVicar said he wanted to make reruns of the program available for another six months to “soften the transition.” Some stations “really depend” on the daily four-hour show “for a large part of their broadcast,” McVicar said. Some air the full show twice daily, he said.  

UnderCurrents has featured Native music over the years, a conscious effort to raise the genre’s profile, according to McVicar. Before starting UnderCurrents, McVicar hosted Earthsongs, a specialty show featuring contemporary Native music.

“Native music was rarely busted out of the specialty program category, and we wanted it to be just an everyday part of the music mix right along with all of these other cultures around America and around the world” on UnderCurrents, he said.  

In a time where stations often have narrow formats, Castelán said, “I was proud and surprised that [for] a lot of people, this type of format really resonated with them, and they liked the variety.”

8 thoughts on “Public radio’s ‘UnderCurrents’ to end production

  1. This is sad news. I’ll really miss your shows!
    Thank you, both Gregg and Gabriela, for excellent programming and introducing us to such a great variety of good music!

    One minor question… I’ve been donating $10 a month for several years now, and wonder how to stop that after December’s donation. Will it be automatically stopped, or do I have to do something?

    I still wear my Undercurrents t-shirts with pride! Are there any left to be had? (medium sized)

  2. I’m so sad to hear this! I rarely got to listen more than an hour as my local station aired it between 2 and 6 am and I’d listen getting ready for work. When I heard a song while I was in the shower that I just had to buy, I’d have to repeat the name and artist over and over until I could write it down. Your program introduced me to different genres and artists that I never would’ve heard anywhere else. Thank you for all you did to promote Native music. You will be missed.

  3. I set my alarm to hear just the last 15 min(4:45am) before All Things Considered. In this 15 minute time frame I have been introduced to new must have music and generally have been charmed by the sounds coming out of the radio.
    Since I am a monthly member I also stream the show during the day while working in my shop.
    I will miss you. Thank you for the dedication and the great tunes.

  4. Will miss ! During early pandemic the middle of the night shows on my local college radio station were always a great comfort, and an intro to new music . Thank you!

  5. Very saddened to hear this! I LOVE Undercurrents, and the soothing voices of Greg and Gabriella. In fact I’ve told friends I would marry her for her voice, it’s so gentle and relaxing! Our local native station is slowly going downhill, losing some longtime programs and replacing them with less enjoyable ones, so it’s always nice to be able to switch to streaming Undercurrents. The station itself has replaced a couple offerings with Undercurrents, which I was happy about. This news is heartbreaking, like losing a dear friend. I’m happy for the two of you, and wish you many years together enjoying retirement to the fullest. II had noticed lately there was occasionally a different host and suspected maybe the show was simply transitioning to someone younger. Thanks you both for so many years of great music, 99% of which I may never have discovered otherwise. HAPPY TRAILS!

  6. Sad to hear, but best wishes on your new adventures. Although an infrequent listener, if I ever had trouble sleeping, I would stream an episode from WOJB and fall right to sleep. Thank you for your eclectic mixes. I’m so grateful to find this gem!

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