WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Michael Black

Radio Program Manager

I was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, and grew up mostly in and around the Rochester area. I got my radio start at WBKT at Brockport High school as a sophomore, and was its station manager in my senior year in high school. I had caught the radio & TV bug. While in high school, I started working for the local commercial station in town (WWBK/WJBT). While attending SUNY Brockport, I helped build WBSU-FM, and started as an intern for WXXI-TV. I started working for WXXI in the broadcast operations area, and eventually became an online television editor. In 1985, I took a position at WHYY in Philadelphia in their engineering department, working primarily as a video editor, but also provided audio support for TV productions and for some radio productions, including NPR's Fresh Air.

In 1988, I took a position at Hobart & William Smith Colleges as station manager for WEOS, and transformed the station into a public radio service serving the Finger Lakes, including laying the ground work for WITH in Ithaca, which is on the air today. This included expanding coverage area, and increasing local programming that in some cases, went national. A lot of students I worked with have gone into the broadcast industry, including Jonas Schwartz, Chris Carlin, Josh Horowitz, and Dana Glaser, to name a few. I even dabbled in on air play-by-play sports, garnering a Media person of the year award from the USILA for lacrosse broadcasts.

In 2007, I rejoined WXXI as the radio program manager, to oversee WXXI-AM and WRUR, and work on new projects, which now include our partnership with HWS with WEOS and helping to launch WITH in Ithaca. I have a passion for public media and new music, and strive to continue to grow public media. 

I have a passion for craft beers, and actively support the local brewing community. I also am a chili-head! Bring the heat!

Ways to Connect

NPR Music is once again asking unknown bands and musicians across the country to film themselves performing one song at a desk of their choice. The 2018 Tiny Desk Contest will be sponsored for the fourth year by Lagunitas Brewing Company, and the winner will play NPR's famous Tiny Desk in Washington, D.C., before embarking on a U.S.

Since 1991, Sundays at 6PM have been greeted with the presentation of jazz standards by Ruth Elaine, a volunteer host on WRUR. Through the years, Sunday Session has developed a following, with dedicated listeners tuning in for the program. After 26 years, Ruth Elaine has decided to retire her program. She wishes her listeners well. A very private person, Ruth Elaine had a strong presence on the the radio. 

Some of the prominent popular musicians who passed away in 2017 are celebrated in a one-hour special hosted by public radio music historian Paul Ingles.  Music included from Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Chris Cornell, Gregg Allman, Tom Petty, Glen Campbell, J. Geils, Pat Dinizio, and Paul Buckmaster. Join us on New Year's Day at 6PM on WRUR. 

A NPR tradition every New Year's Eve since the 1970s, Toast of the Nation is the perfect audio complement for this holiday occasion. It's festive jazz you can party to. Spirited, improvised, and swinging, each segment is hosted by Christian McBride.


London-based singer songwriter Jade Bird traveled to upstate New York to record her new EP called Something American. It was produced by Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers. Bird is just 20 years old, but there is great depth and maturity to her music which draws inspiration from folks like Neil Young, Son House and Bob Dylan. She is on today's World Cafe at 2PM.

  The Splendid Table's annual live Thanksgiving call-in show is back on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23, 12 PM-2 PM ET. This year we have double the fun with hosts Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Francis Lam tag teaming. This will be Lynne's last Turkey Confidential as she retires at the end of 2017 and turns over the reins to Francis in 2018.

Beatles documentarian Paul Ingles is joined by two super Beatles fans to provide an annotated tour through The Beatles chart-topping album, released 50 years ago, MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR.  Musician Rob Martinez and Beatles lecturer Scott Freiman offer historical background, personal stories and their informed opinions on each track from the 1967 album that spent 8 weeks in the number one slot on U.S. album charts in 1968. The program airs this Thursday night at 6PM on WRUR. 

October at The Little Cafe: (follow link for more information)

Wednesday October 4 (7-9pm)  Margaret Explosion

Thursday October 5 (7-9pm) Big Blue House

Friday October 6 (8-10pm) Auld Lang Syne

Saturday October 7  (8-10pm) Connie Deming

Monday October 9 (7-9pm) Watkins and the Rapiers

Tuesday October 10 (7-9pm) Lakeshore @ The Little: Jerry Falzone, Cammy Enaharo, Maria Sebastian,                                                                    Chris Wilson

This week: our final (finally) rebroadcast before our new season starts on October 7!

A Vietnam Soundscape

Sep 24, 2017
Oliver Noonan/Associated Press

During World War I, soldiers carried song books in their kit bags. In World War II, some soldiers had access to radios and could hear Glenn Miller and the Army-Air Force Band perform. Others were lucky enough to catch Bob Hope headline a USO show. During the Korean War the military set up its own radio network, Armed Forces Radio (Korea). Vietnam had all these outlets and more. Its GIs brought their own radios and instruments from home. They bought records and swapped tapes of their favorite music.