The 13-week Song of America radio series, which was released, co-produced, and distributed by The WFMT Radio Network in Chicago in October 2011, is a documentary series which explores the history of American culture through the eyes of American poets and the ears of American composers. Developed and hosted by baritone Thomas Hampson, the series treats American classic song – poetry set to music by American composers – as a vibrant diary of the American experience. Each program focuses on a particular topic that sheds light on a larger theme in American history, and includes approximately 40 minutes of music drawn from archival and modern song recordings, plus stories and insights about the people and events that inspired those songs. Some programs also include lively interviews with experts from various fields.
The Song of America radio series has proven extremely popular, having aired on more than 300 radio stations in the United States. Song of America was also made available by the European Broadcasting Union to its 48 member stations in 2012. Stations outside of the United States, which aired the series, have included Raidió Teilifís Éireann (Ireland’s National Public Service Broadcaster), New Zealand Public Radio (NZPR), and public radio stations in Croatia, Romania, Denmark, Latvia, Serbia, the Czech Republic, and Germany.
If you accept the fact that words are somehow the symbols of people’s thoughts and identifications of their lives, and that music can perhaps echo memories and associations more distant than any immediate reality — then in song you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time. — Thomas Hampson