Seattle native Peter Newman has been with Classical KING since 1977, serving in a long list of roles that range from The Morning Show host, Operations Director, Program Director, and General Manager. Nearly turning his attention to law school and international studies, it was hosting an eclectic, late-night college radio show that solidified his love for radio and production early on. As a graduate of the University of Washington with degrees in speech and history, Peter was drawn to the campus radio show for its ability to mix comedy, interviews, and even the odd musical selection together. Inevitably, once he had joined the broadcasting world there was no turning back; Peter did stints at KUOW and KXA before finding his way to Classical KING.
Peter’s Austrian-born parents shaped his musical tastes as he cites Mahler and Dvorak as personal favorites, but 1930’s English dance bands and musicals can also be found in his library. Those college radio years also probably account for his collection of novelty recordings. He now divides his time between Seattle and the Oregon coast, though travel, world cuisines, and all things electronic compete for his attention to this day. Peter is married to well-known stage actor Megan Cole and is “supervised” by his cat Rico.
With a life spent surrounded by music and broadcasting in tandem, Peter will be the first one to tell you that bringing the sounds of the composers and musicians we play on Classical KING and the impact of live music on the radio remain deeply important and rewarding for him.
Q&A with Peter
KING: Let’s say you have a free day to spend somewhere. Are you heading to the beach or the mountains? In the Pacific Northwest, of course, we have easy access to both.
Peter: That’s a tough one. Growing up here my parents used to alternate summer vacations. One summer it would be the Olympic Peninsula, the next it would be someplace like the North Cascades. I’m fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time at the ocean so a day at Rainier might be just about perfect.
KING: Favorite type of food?
Peter: I’m partial to various Asian cuisines. Up to Grade 6 I was in a public school that was largely Japanese and Chinese so I was trading my sandwiches for sushi, etc. at age 8. I wish I could say that sushi makes for good take-out but… so Chinese it is!
KING: It’s game night! Are you hoping for a board/tabletop game, a video game, or a sporting event?
Peter: I haven’t done this yet but I’d be up for a knock-down online game of Monopoly.
KING: Beatles or Rolling Stones? (Or Bach or Beethoven?)
Peter: Beatles definitely. Growing up I had no idea how good they really were. I predict a bright future for the lads.
KING: What music might people be surprised to learn you listen to — when you’re not listening to KING, that is?
Peter: It’s no surprise to my friends but I’m total Stephen Sondheim fanatic. If I had to take one show to desert island it would probably be “Follies.” Or maybe “Pacific Overtures.” Or maybe “Into the Woods.” Or maybe… .
KING: What classical composers, living or dead, haven’t gotten their fair dose of attention — which composers aren’t “household names” but should be?
Peter: You could argue that Sondheim hasn’t gotten his due as a composer, even though he studied under Milton Babbitt. John Zorn is somewhat known but could have a wider audience. In the past year we’ve been playing more of the music of William Grant Still. I’m appreciating his music more and more these days.
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?
Peter: Dvorak. Whether it’s the symphonies, especially the last three, the chamber music, the Cello Concerto, even the Slavonic Dances, they are so well crafted, so full of tunes, so joyous – with a touch of sadness – I can’t get enough.
KING: What pieces of music do you turn to when you need comfort, solace, or relaxation?
Peter: The Mahler symphonies and song cycles. They’ve been there for me at some of the most important moments in my life. The 3rd Symphony turns me into a puddle.
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?
Peter: I’d be too intimidated to invite Sondheim or Mahler. I think you could have a rollickingly good party with Leonard Bernstein, Felix Mendelssohn and George Gershwin. There better be a piano handy.