Retirement will have to wait a little longer for Gregg Porter… After hanging up his mic in the spring of 2021, Gregg found himself with an offer he couldn’t refuse when host Dave Beck called him up and asked if he’d be interested in coming on-air at Classical KING.
Gregg started in radio right out of high school in his home state of Iowa, presenting and producing public radio programming ranging from classical, folk, jazz and other music shows, news programs, and live performances. Gregg came to Seattle in 1984 to work at KUOW public radio and was there in different positions over a 37-year period. Taking roles as Music Director (where he hired Dave Beck for his first full-time radio work), Manager of Production and Operations, Digital Archivist, and Announcer. He also produced and engineered hundreds of segments and programs for the national public radio system, including live broadcasts from the Northwest Folklife Festival, the eleven-year run of Potluck, and recording and producing statewide broadcasts of the Cedar Rapids Symphony.
Outside of his time in public radio, Gregg has been an album producer as well as a music programmer for business, restaurant and retail settings, a voice actor, a musician specializing in Hawaiian music, and an inveterate punster. He recently spent a few years (as a panelist, then as host) on the nationally syndicated radio quiz show, “Says You!”.
It’s also worth noting Gregg is a voracious reader, averaging more than 75 books a year. And when it comes to music, he enjoys listening to almost any kind of it. Among his favorite classical works are Maurice Ravel’s Pavane, Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, and almost anything by contemporary American composers John Adams, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Harry Partch.
Q&A with Gregg
KING: Let’s say you have a free day to spend somewhere beautiful. Are you heading to the beach or the mountains? In the Pacific Northwest, of course, we have easy access to both.
Gregg: I’m a city boy, prone to lots of walking rather than driving, so I might just stroll around my home neighborhood (stretching from Queen Anne Hill to Seattle Center to Marshall Park to the Olympic Sculpture Park) or hop public transport to some other part of Seattle and wander around Green Lake or the lovely University of Washington campus.
KING: Favorite type of food?
Gregg: Pizza, though at my age I can’t eat it as often as I used to. Fond of Italian, Greek, Mexican.
KING: It’s game night! Are you hoping for a board/tabletop game, a video game, or a sporting event?
Gregg: I’m not really a big “games” person, though I can be dangerously adversarial in trivia competitions.
KING: Beatles or Rolling Stones? (Or Bach or Beethoven?)
Gregg: If limited to the basic choice, Beatles. But in reality… The Monkees; they were the earliest strong musical influence on me, and I have collected a lot of rare Monkees material over the years, as well as from the solo career of Michael Nesmith.
KING: What music might people be surprised to learn you listen to — when you’re not at Classical KING, that is?
Gregg: Progressive Rock, Jazz, Celtic, Hawaiian (I often play `ukulele and bass for local hula dancers).
KING: What classical composers, living or dead, haven’t gotten their fair dose of attention — which composers aren’t “household names” but should be?
Gregg: Harry Partch – for his invention of unique musical scales and a collection of beautiful instruments to play in those scales.
Michael Daugherty – contemporary composer with a quirky ear for humorous pop-culture references.
Michael Conway Baker – writes with a comfortable sense of melody and tonality, often in compositions reflecting the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada.
KING: If your classical music collection was entirely vinyl records, which of those records would be nearly worn-out from being played dozens of times? In other words, what music do you come back to, over and over again?
Gregg: Almost anything by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Ralph Vaughan Williams – and I still have many, many vinyl releases of their works. My overall vinyl collection numbers around 3,000 albums, while I have about 6,000 CDs.
KING: What pieces of music do you turn to when you need comfort, solace, or relaxation?
Gregg: If we are sticking to the classical realm… Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending”; Ravel “Pavane for a Dead Princess”; Reich “Music for 18 Musicians”.
KING: Let’s say you’re hosting a musical dinner party or cocktail party, and you can invite three composers or performers, living or dead. Whom do you invite?
GREGG: Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, Dave Brubeck.