If you turn on a Broadway radio station, whether it’s on your car radio or off of Spotify, you’re probably going to hear an array of songs from Broadway’s most famous musicals, such as “Wicked,” “Rent,” “Hamilton” or “Oklahoma!” From this narrow selection, you would never guess that hundreds of musicals have been released in those elite theaters since the mid-1800s. Dr. Stuart Brown, the director of Student Services on UConn’s Waterbury campus, has recently created his own 24/7 online Broadway radio station, “Sounds of Broadway,” in order to offer a far more diverse and extensive musical theater education to listeners.
Brown’s love of Broadway began back in the early 70s when he saw the original “Grease.” This was only the start of the extensive list of shows he’s had the chance to see in his life, as his radio career in college opened new doors for him.
“In college, not only did I have my own Broadway program, but I was also the fine arts editor of the station, which allowed me to obtain press seats for Broadway plays and musicals,” Brown said in an email. “Rutgers was only a 45 minute train ride into New York City so I was able to see a lot of shows.”
For years Brown has dreamed of running his own radio station, and due to recent changes in technology, he has been able to achieve that dream. This past spring, Brown launched “Sounds of Broadway” online. This station is completely free to listeners and is also available as an app for Apple and Android devices. It doesn’t even have commercials, because, unlike most streaming services, Brown is more interested in the fun of running his station than in profits.
“I enjoy being able to present a wide range of songs from the musical theater that encompass well-known shows and more obscure productions, which can also have great music,” Brown said. “It’s also exciting to review the statistics and see there are listeners from all over the world.”
Brown asserts that his station is the most extensive and diverse listing of Broadway songs anywhere, with over 4,300 songs from 525 musicals. He also has hundreds of cast recordings on vinyl that will probably never be released on CD or uploaded on services like iTunes. He hopes to digitize this collection to further extend his online catalog.
Brown isn’t worried about competition with more popular music streaming services, since his station is more niche and goes a step farther than most streaming services with the inclusion of his brief introductions to songs every 30 minutes or so. These introductions are based on the knowledge of musical theater he has gathered over the years as an avid Broadway fan and patron. They’re interesting to listen to, considering there aren’t many other radio hosts out there that could explain what the original “Grease” was like when it first came out, among other insights he has gathered over the years.
In addition to his standard broadcasts, Brown has also created different thematic slots such as “The Best of Forbidden Broadway,” “Lost in Boston” (songs cut from a Broadway show’s out-of-town tryouts) and “Nothing But Overtures.” There will also be theme days corresponding with special times of year, holidays and performer’s birthdays.
“Last year during the weekend before the June 9 Tony Award ceremony I had three playlists in rotation featuring every past winner in the Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Musical categories,” Brown said. “It was about 12 hours of music. I started from the very beginning, in 1948, and worked my way up to the previous year’s winners. I also included Tony trivia and fun facts.”
Brown’s radio station has increasingly become a success with an average of 3,600 listeners visiting either his site or his app in a 30-day period. Being that this number is at a 36 percent increase from last month, Brown is hopeful that it will only continue to grow more popular overtime.
So if you’re desperate for a musical education in addition to your regular college education this year, visit “Sounds of Broadway.” Who knows? It could become the soundtrack of your semester.
Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.