You're Hearing Echoes
The Soothing Rhythms of John DiLiberto
By: John Shepler
It's a warm clear summer evening with the glow of nearly a
full moon silhouetting the trees. The house is open to catch
the fresh breezes as they flutter through the curtains and down
the hall to exit out the patio screen door. In the rustling of
the breeze, crickets chirp and a Pan flute fades in and out.
It's a most relaxing blend of sound. Some is nature just outside
the window, some is provided by artists from half a world away.
It's hard to tell where one element ends and another begins.
Then a soothing voice interjects to anchor us. He says simply
"You're hearing Echoes and I'm John Diliberto."
is described as a nightly music soundscape, airing in the quiet
times between the hustle of the day's work and evening chores
and just before we retire for the night. Chances are that it
is available on your local public radio station, as it airs on
145 of them through Public Radio International. You'll know when
you have Echoes tuned in. It is as much mood as music. It's neither
classical, nor jazz. Not reggae, not what was once called instrumental
music. New Age might be a closer description. At times it seems
to have that ethereal element of space music. Other times, the
sound is that of a single musician with an acoustic guitar or
a choir of monks chanting in the distance.
One of the featured artists on Echoes is Brian Eno, who popularized
a term called ambient music to describe music without a traditional
song structure that can exist in the foreground or background.
This goes back as far as the late 1970's. Interestingly, ambient
music is employed to create a calming space in techno dance clubs
as a way to recover from the frenetic techno dancing. Perhaps
this is why Echoes is so welcome after a frenetic techno work
day, when you crave a way to shift into lower and lower gears,
perhaps even to meditate a bit before calling it a night.
John Diliberto might have become a musician and composer himself.
He began playing the flute in ninth grade, inspired partly by
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. But he gave it up at year's end
in favor of playing football. That tranquilizing voice you hear
resonating just above the music belongs to an all-conference
defensive center who went on to win a football scholarship to
the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia. But music still
called him. In his sophomore year John joined the campus radio
station, WXPN, and began hosting a show of space music, jazz,
new wave and avant-garde music.
In 1975, he created a soundscape of ethereal music called
"Star's End." It aired Sunday mornings from 1 am to
5 am and was billed as a "journey to the outer limits of
your aural universe." That show still airs today, almost
25 years later, in exactly the same time slot.
After college, John started writing music reviews for an alternative
paper, the Drummer, and also for Audio magazine. He programmed
KALX, the university station in Berkeley, California, but found
himself returning to WXPN in 1981. There he met Kimberly Haas,
and together they started producing musical documentaries for
national distribution. These shows, called Totally Wireds, won
many national awards and set the stage for a collaboration that
has produced 10 years of nightly soundscapes on Echoes.
Kimberly Haas planned to become a marine biologist when she
came to the University of Pennsylvania from Mountainside, New
Jersey. Her high school interest in jazz drew her to WXPN, and
soon she found herself hosting jazz shows and producing on-air
concerts. She was music director of the station when John Diliberto
returned from Berkeley.
Kimberly and John were married in 1984. They live in Chester
County, Pennsylvania, with two daughters, one dog, one cat, and
a unique radio show that calms the nerves of stressed-out listeners
If you enjoy the music you find on the Windham Hill or Hearts
of Space labels, or artists like Will Ackerman, Andreas Vollenweider,
Mike Oldfield and Vangelis, then you'll enjoy hearing Echoes
each night. It creates an environment, a background to catch
up on reading, surf a bit on the computer, work on a craft project
or just lay back and enjoy. There's something almost mystical
about Echoes reverberating through a dimly lit room or even your
car at night. But there are times that I wish I could tune it
in during rush hour traffic. For then, I'm glad to have some
of those same artists on CD.
Oh, by the way, you are also invited to submit music of your
own composition for review and possible inclusion on the program.
If your music resonates with the format, you might even be hearing
your own Echoes on public radio.
Also visit these related
Echoes - The Internet
home of Echoes features play lists, stations and times, more
on the people behind the programs and how to submit your music
Hearts of Space Radio
- Space and travel music: celestial, cosmic & terrestrial.
This form of new age music is often heard on Echoes and has a
program of its own on Hearts of Space.