Blue Note Records President and six-time Grammy Award Winner Don Was launches a weekly broadcast program Friday, April 16 in his hometown of Detroit. The Don Was Motor City Playlist digs deep into his music archives to curate playlists and share personal stories about the artists whose songs he features.
“This show is really different in that it is completely freeform,” says Was. “The format will be an old school stream of consciousness; diverse with songs that I love and want to share with listeners. It’s been really fun to make the playlists. I get to do this show from my birthplace of Detroit with the great Ann Delisi (Host on WDET). You will hear stories about the Stones. Stories about Dylan. Stories about Bonnie Raitt and Iggy Pop. Stories about Detroit.”
The name of every playlist will be inspired by Don Was’ history in Detroit. As listeners tune in from around the world, they will hear commentary about the Motor City and its rich musical and cultural histories. Dubbed, “the most exciting city in America” by the New York Times, Detroit is the birthplace of Was, Jack White, Big Sean, Alice Cooper, Eminem, Elvin Jones, Pepper Adams, Marcus Belgrave, James Carter, Carl Craig, Alberta Adams and many others.
Delisi has been a Detroit broadcaster and producer for more than 35 years. Her show Essential Music is a treasured go-to for listeners to discover new music as well as look back at landmark albums, musical moments and the musicians who created them. She has interviewed everyone from David Bowie to Adele to White House Photographer Pete Souza. Dedicated to exploring the creative spirit that drives artists, Delisi said the idea to partner with Was came up in one of their many conversations over dinner.
“We were having dinner in Detroit when he was in town for the Concert of Colors global music festival. He talked about listening to WDET and the late night show “Jazz Today (hosted by Bud Spangler)”, said Delisi. “Don said his dream was to do a show like that and play songs that were his personal favorites – from any genre and from any era. Months later, I suggested to my WDET colleagues that Don should host a show on WDET and everyone loved the idea.”
A pivotal moment to developing the show’s potential occurred years ago when Was visited WDET to be interviewed by Delisi, only for the show to be preempted due to a national emergency press conference.
“Back in 2012, our live interview was preempted, so we ended up recording a lengthy interview in a small studio sharing stories and talking about music. In the years that followed, I began working with Don on the Concert of Colors and we would always talk about music. Little did we know that all of those conversations were preparing us for this show,” Delisi said.
“I’ve been going through my record collection, music from Detroit and beyond, on and off Blue Note,” Was says. “Maybe some music that hasn’t been released from Was Not Was but I’m modest with this show, I haven’t decided that part yet.”
Don Was Motor City Playlist airs Friday, 10 p.m. to midnight on Detroit’s NPR station, WDET 101.9 FM and available to stream on wdet.org, the WDET mobile app, and on smart speakers.