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.
“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.”