MPR’s American Mavericks Series Wins Peabody



American Mavericks, a Minnesota Public Radio music series and website, produced in association with the San Francisco Symphony and its music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, has won a Peabody award, which recognizes distinguished achievement and meritorious public service across a broad range of topics by stations, networks, producing organizations and individuals.

A total of 29 Peabody award-winners for excellence in electronic media, chosen from more than 1,100 entries, were announced Wednesday. The awards will be presented May 17, 2004, at a luncheon at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Katie Couric, co-anchor of NBC’s “Today” and contributing anchor for “Dateline NBC,” will host the ceremony.

American Mavericks is a 13-part radio series—hosted by singer Suzanne Vega—and a website project that tells the stories of the iconoclastic composers who shaped the development of American music in the 20th century—music that is seldom heard in performance or on the radio.

“We wanted to bring this extraordinary music, and the ideas behind it, to the public radio audience,” says Sarah Lutman, senior vice president for cultural programming and initiatives at Minnesota Public Radio. “It’s unlike anything produced by public radio—it brings together accessible and engaging broadcasts with one of the biggest Web sites we’ve ever created.”

The Web site, www.musicmavericks.publicradio.org, features a comprehensive collection of performances—including 60 unreleased performances of music by the San Francisco Symphony—interviews, essays, film, video, art, on-demand streams of major works and two Web radio streams of hard-to-find underground classics. There is also a “talk” section where users can engage in discussions about American Mavericks, and virtual instruments—including simulacra of Harry Partch’s 43-tone-to-the-octave constructions and the legendary Rhythmicon built in 1931 by Leon Theremin at the request of Henry Cowell—on which visitors can compose their own works.

The Peabody Awards, established in 1940, are administered by UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.