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Safe & Sound — VPR's celebration of Vermont music — prepares to spin its 100th episode

Mary Engisch and Peter Engisch produce Safe and Sound, VPR's weekly show celebrating Vermont music. The show will air its 100th episode on Saturday, June 4.

Listeners to VPR on the weekends have likely heard Safe & Sound, a show that celebrates Vermont music and musicians. In early June, the show will mark 100 episodes.

Vermont Edition host Connor Cyrus spoke with Mary Engisch, VPR’s Weekend Edition host and reporter, about hosting and producing Safe & Sound, and Peter Engisch, VPR’s audio engineer, who mixes the show.

On what it feels like to reach 100 episodes:

Mary Engisch: Pretty amazing, because we didn't think we'd get beyond episode one. It was just supposed to be a one time event ... to fill some space. And here we are.

At the very beginning of the pandemic, live performances were starting to shut down, including one that VPR carried as a nationally syndicated show called Live From Here. And, as its name suggests, it was a music performance show, live, from different venues across the country, but originating at Minnesota Public Radio. And that filled two hours on a Saturday night, with these live performances from across the country.

They had to shut down their production. And so, VPR was left, kind of overnight, with this two hour space to fill. And so [Director of Audience Insights and Radio Programming] Kari Anderson approached us and said, "Do you think you can fill it with a couple hours of of local Vermont music?"

And I was like, "No." (laughs) I was completely skeptical. And I'm so glad that that gets thrown in my face every week, how wrong I was about not having enough local music. And yeah, the musicians prove it every week.

How did you go about filling that one hour each week?

Peter Engisch: I started using the all the contacts I had in the recording industry, and for Vermont, and I knew a ton of engineers all over the place, and just started contacting them and saying, "hey, who're you working with? What have you got, what can you send me?"

And then everything just kind of snowballed from there, like suddenly the word was getting out to the musicians, not just the studio owners, and everybody was in contact and everybody was kind of feeding off of each other, and kind of getting almost introduced to each other, so it's like almost a reintroduction of musicians and studios with what we were all doing ... It's kind of created this cool community.

Mary Engisch: I think it's a great way to show maybe more traditional Vermont music fans, that there's so much more to Vermont music than three people in a folk ensemble.

Do you think you have 100 episodes more in you?

Mary Engisch: What I'm hoping is going to happen, because we've created this show each week from our home—because we're working from home right during the pandemic—so putting this show together at home is a very different experience than what I'm hoping is going to happen.

[And that] is, as things open up slowly, slowly, we're going to be able to incorporate some some live music back into this program and have some small performances here at VPR and include those. So I'm very much looking forward to that, to bringing that element back to to the program.

Peter Engisch: Yeah, we'd love to see it evolve.

Broadcast at noon on Friday, May 26, 2022.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Connor Cyrus joined Vermont Public as host and senior producer in March 2021. He was a morning reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University), he started his reporting career as an intern at WPTZ, later working for WAGM in Presque Isle, Maine, and WCAX Channel 3, where he covered a broad range of stories from Vermont’s dairy industry to the nurses’ strikes at UVM Medical Center. He’s passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he was a producer for television news and NPR member station WGCU for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined Vermont Public in October 2017 as producer of Vermont Edition.