Genre DJ of the Month (Folk):

Wanda Fischer

WAMC Northeast Public Radio : Albany, NY

How long have you been involved with WAMC and how did you first hear about the station?
I started my show on WAMC on September 18, 1982. Prior to moving to Albany’s Capital District in July 1975, I had done a similar show in Worcester, Massachusetts, at WCUW. I discovered the station almost immediately upon moving here because I went to the “left end of the dial” looking for what I consider to be the kind of radio station I like to listen to.
You have a show called The Hudson River Sampler? Tell us about it!
My show, “The Hudson River Sampler,” is on Saturday nights from 8-10 pm. It started by following “A Prairie Home Companion,” which was a great opening act (I told Garrison Keillor that once, and he laughed). Now Chris Thiele’s “Live from Here” precedes my show. I play folk and acoustic music, sometimes a little blues and Celtic music as well. I play music going back to the 1960s to the present. I mix new music with older material, trying to put songs together in a way I feel they fit together. I sometimes have live guests of people who are traveling through the area, although right now, given the stay home orders, I cannot have li
What was your favorite release of 2019?

Favorite release of 2019: Our Native Daughters by Our Native Daughters

Is there any music slated for release in 2020 that you are most excited about?

Eliza Gilkyson’s “2020.”

Do you have a favorite artist or album you never get tired of listening to?

I never get tired of listening to multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon, who can play anything, sing anything, from Woody Guthrie to Pete Seeger to political music to songs about baseball to his own contemporary material. He’s a master of anything he touches.

Which artist/band has put on the best show you’ve ever seen live?

This one was the most difficult question of all to respond to, and why you’re only receiving my answers now. I would have to say Pete Seeger and Joan Baez in an outdoor concert at Harvard Stadium right after Woodstock in 1969. Joan had had her two guitars stolen at Woodstock, and she was quite upset that she had to use someone else’s guitars, but you never would have known it when she sang. Pete was his usual amazing self. They did a couple of songs together as well.

Who is an artist or band totally outside the realm of the music you play on your show that people might be surprised to know you love?

Common. I was introduced to his music via the Ava Duvernay movie about Martin Luther King, Jr., and I investigated further. His use of language is incredible. (I suffer from the curse of the English major when it comes to lyrics.)

What is your best childhood memory?

My favorite childhood memory was being four years old and making my own singing debut at my family reunion in southwestern Virginia. I belted out “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” the Hank Williams song, even though I had no idea what the lyrics meant. There’s one line that says, “You’ll walk the floor, the way I do, your cheatin’ heart will tell on you.” In my four-year-old mind, I thought the person was singing about having an earache. Little did I know that members of the famous Carter Family, who were friends of my father’s, were at that family reunion.

What event in your life would you say has shaped you the most as a person?

The event in my life that shaped me as a person: My father grew up in the same town as the famous Carter Family. We listened to traditional and old-time country music from the time I was born. I believe that having him as my father, and being exposed to that type of music for my entire life, provided the foundation that led me into radio-land.

If you could choose, what time period in the past would you most want to travel back to and visit?

Time period to travel back to: To the era of women’s suffrage. I would have liked to have worked for women to get the vote. I was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and I would have liked to have lived during the time when women worked for suffrage.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Albany that you always made sure to take guests/visitors to when we were all allowed to still eat at restaurants?

Albany restaurant: D’Raymond’s Italian restaurant. The food is amazing, and whenever I go out for dinner, which isn’t many times (even without the pandemic), I always opt for Italian food.

What in your life brings you the most joy?

What brings me most joy (besides music): I’m a volunteer reader in the Schenectady City Schools for first graders. Since my grandchildren live far away (three in Michigan, three in New Hampshire), I get tremendous joy reading with these inner-city first graders. I miss them terribly now that there’s no school due to the pandemic. They may be grateful for my coming to them, but I get more out of interacting with them than they do out of my going to read to them.

Lightning round:

Dog or Cat?  Dog person (dachshunds, specifically—just adopted/rescued a ten-year-old dachshund just before pandemic hit)
Morning Person or Night Owl?  Night owl—definitely
City or Country?  City
Beach or Mountains?  Mountains
Watch TV or Read A Book?  Combination of TV and books (I’ve written a novel, so I do read a lot)
Sunny or Rainy?  Sunny
Dine (when it was a thing) or Delivery?  Dine
Pants or Shorts?  Pants
Warm or Cold drinks?  Cold Drinks

Given all of our time now spent at home, do you have any current favorite shows you’re enjoying/binging? How about a movie (new or old) that you’ve watched recently that you loved?

I’ve been watching old “Law and Order” shows and old movies on TCM. I watched a lot of old baseball movies on what would have been opening day for Major League Baseball. (I’m also kind of a baseball nut—the novel I wrote is about minor league baseball.)

Finally, and most importantly… where is the first place you want to go again that is currently closed due to the pandemic?

I miss my library! I wrote the bulk of my novel at the Guilderland Public Library. I want to go to a baseball game as soon as society opens back up. We have a great minor league team nearby. If baseball season is cancelled, I want to play tennis (I play competitive tennis, too).