BY PAUL BICKLEY
Since July, WFIU-FM has been airing PorchLight with Tom Roznowski in which the local musician and author discusses finding the extraordinary in the everyday. Topics include Indiana history, local places, literature, and lots of unfamiliar deep cuts. Airing at 8 p.m. on Saturdays, each show is built around a theme such as river, train, or trees, and though much of the program springs from his own experiences, Roznowski sets out a “second chair on the porch” to get an expert’s take.
“I think of PorchLight as a children’s show for adults,” Roznowski, 67, says. “It has stories, music, discoveries, and short segments. It’s a safe space. Porches symbolize a brief respite; porch lights provide a soft light at the end of a long day.”
The program features several regular segments. For example, in the first episode, “River,” Roznowski interviewed Brendan Kearns, a program specialist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Healthy Rivers Initiative, during the Party of Two interview segment. Another segment, A Visit with Bish, played moments from WFIU jazz programs Dick Bishop hosted over 55 years.
The show continued with The Great Wall of Wisdom as writer and Indiana University professor emeritus Scott Russell Sanders read works about rivers; and Rudyard Kipling got the Parting Word, with Roznowski reading a passage from his poem “The River’s Tale.”
Recorded music included Nick Drake’s “River Man,” Joni Mitchell’s “River,” and Al Green’s “Take Me to the River.” The sound of a pull chain switching a light on at the beginning of the episode and then off at the end framed the program.
Since his 1976 arrival in Bloomington, Roznowski has had two other radio programs: Blue Sunday (WTTS-FM) and Hometown (WFIU). He’s recorded three CDs of original roots songs and one collaborative CD, and has performed bimonthly at The Players Pub. He’s also the author of the book An American Hometown.
“Tech and the way people’s lives are structured are stressful,” Roznowski says. “To encounter other things, you have to get off the wheel. PorchLight is a way to be somewhere else.”
Visit wfiu.org/porchlight for more information.