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Jonah Tolchin
Audio Archives: Live at WUMB
Jonah Tolchin
WUMB Studio
recorded on June 25, 2014

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"I grew up in a rural area of Central New York State, just north of the Catskill and just south of the Adirondacks. Because it was so near Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame, baseball was like a religion in the region. I am still a big fan, but am more of a fan of historic baseball and know way more about the 1939 Homestead Grays than I do about the current Boston Red Sox. Though the area was poor, we were lucky enough to have an abundance of both kinds of music: Country and Western.

The invention of the transistor radio broadened my world. If I climbed up one of the many hills I could pick up everything from the Canadian CBS to WLS with the Louisiana Hayride followed by Lee Moore the Coffee Drinkin' Nighthawk. Late at night I sometimes heard WBZ from Boston, but not clearly. And if I hid the radio under the covers, and lay in bed just right, I could listen to Cousin Brucie from NYC.

Of course pop music made a major impression. I loved the Beach Boys and especially Jan and Dean (don't hold it against me.) I really wanted to be a surfer but soon realized that there was no surf to ride on Schenevus Creek. Then the Beatles appeared on the Sullivan Show and I wanted ever so to be English. Actually I probably still do. Hitchhiking to the nearest college town I ended up hanging around a bookstore/coffeehouse where I discovered folk music, only to find that it wasn't that much different from the music I grew up with.

After briefly considering a career in theater, I ended up going to a state college near Woodstock, the town, not where the festival was. Considering all of the folks who lived there then, I figured I had a good chance of running into Dylan, Butterfield, Muldaur or other famous people on the street, but never did. Eventually I moved to New York City, because everyone should live there at some point in their lives, to be a community organizer. A year later I followed a job to Boston and have been here ever since.

I got involved in radio early on with WTBS at MIT and eventually turned pro. Over the years I've been, sometimes briefly, on several other stations and did a memorable stint on WGBH waking up the birds for Robert J. Lurtsema. Considering all the great people I've gotten to work with over the years, my time at WUMB has been wonderful. Even the time I attended a Member Concert in a kilt on a bet."

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