EXETER, N.H. — Tucked away on family-owned land just north of State Route 101, there’s a stage set aside at The Word Barn for live performances of poetry and music.
For listeners of New Hampshire Public Radio, that stage may start on Friday night to sound much closer, thanks to a new partnership between the venue and the station.
A weekly radio show hosted by NHPR’s Rick Ganley will feature the steady drumbeat of musical acts that Ben and Sarah Anderson have attracted to their intimate indoor-outdoor venue at their property on Newfields Road.
“I think the way we have produced the show, you’ll find that it really pulls you in. It makes you feel like you’re really there,” Ganley said. “It’s kind of mixed in a way to make you feel like you’re part of that audience and part of that small group of people right next to the stage.”
The hour-long program, “Live from The Word Barn,” will broadcast at 8 p.m. on Friday then re-broadcast at 6 p.m. on Sunday each week, featuring pre-recorded shows from summer 2023 and moving forward. The first show airs Friday, Nov. 3.
Emily Quirk, program director for NHPR, said she and Ganley had been talking for years about how to make a locally produced music show a regular feature on NHPR’s lineup, so they struck up talks with Ben Anderson and embarked on this collaboration to highlight the existing stream of talented musicians.
“What was really important for me is that this could be a consistent presence,” Quirk said. “It’s nice to have a music special here and there, but to really build a brand and to really make an impact, you need to build a habit, and having something on a weekly basis is how you do that.”
While NHPR will always be a news source, Quirk said “news fatigue is real,” and this program offers audiences “an oasis on the weekends” and an opportunity to hear from the state’s highly engaged arts community.
“I want NHPR to be a cultural platform where music matters, too,” she said.
Ben Anderson said having a radio version of his venue’s shows is a great opportunity to reach an even wider audience. He had qualms, to be sure, about the prospect that some listeners would decide they don’t need to come and buy tickets for in-person performances anymore. But the tradeoffs seem worth it, he said.
“There’s nothing like the power of live music, firsthand,” he said.
Radio listeners will be able to hear the energy that the live audience contributed to each show, and some of the summer performances from The Word Barn’s “meadow” stage include the sound of crickets chirping in the background, Anderson said.
“I think, if anything, it’s going to create the appetite for it,” he added, “and sort of drive people to come and experience it firsthand themselves.”
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