John Schaefer

John Schaefer has hosted Soundcheck since the show’s inception in 2002. He has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds since 1982 (“The No. 1 radio show for the Global Village” – Billboard) and the New Sounds Live concert series since 1986.

Schaefer has written extensively about music, including the book New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music (Harper & Row, NY, 1987; Virgin Books, London, 1990); The Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music (Cambridge University Press, U.K., 2000); and the TV program Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin (Bravo Television, 2003). He was contributing editor for Spin and Ear magazines, and his liner notes appear on more than 100 recordings, ranging from “The Music of Cambodia” to recordings by Yo-Yo Ma and Terry Riley. 

In 2003, Schaefer was honored with the American Music Center's prestigious Letter of Distinction for his "substantial contributions to advancing the field of contemporary American music in the United States and abroad." In May 2006, New York magazine cited Schaefer as one of "the people whose ideas, power, and sheer will are changing New York" in its Influentials issue.  He began blogging for WNYC when accompanying the New York Philharmonic on its historic (and apparently very weird) trip to North Korea in 2008 and continues to blog at

He is a regular contributor to the World Science Festival and the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center; he has also written about horse racing (Bloodlines: A Horse Racing Anthology, Vintage NY 2006) and was a regular panelist on the BBC’s soccer-based program Sports World.  


John Schaefer appears in the following:

Fred Ho: Remembering The Colorful, Politically-Charged Musician

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fred Ho, the baritone sax player, composer, and bandleader, died this weekend in Brooklyn. He was 56. And that tells you nothing you need to know about Fred Ho. Soundcheck host John Schaefer reflects on the life of the iconoclast musician and political activist.

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On-Demand Audio: Buke and Gase with So Percussion

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26, avant rock duo Buke and Gase joined So Percussion at Merkin Concert Hall, as part of the 2014 Ecstatic Music Festival. The evening features new music performed on a mix of traditional and homemade instruments. Listen to the entire show on demand.


Top 10 Essential Kronos Quartet Recordings

Monday, March 24, 2014

Kronos Quartet has been celebrating its 40th anniversary this season – 40 years of upending and then rebuilding our idea of what a string quartet can be. Here's a rundown of 10 of the quartet's most essential recordings.

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On-Demand Audio: Timo Andres, Gabriel Kahane, Ted Hearne, Becca Stevens & Nathan Koci

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday, March 19, we presented a live audio webcast of composer-performers Timo Andres, Gabriel Kahane, Ted Hearne, Becca Stevens and Nathan Koci at the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall.


Check Ahead: Caetano Veloso, 'Abraçaço'

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hear the new album from the Tropicalia pioneer in its entirety and download the song “A Bossa Nova E Foda” before it's release on March 25.

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Listen: Bang On A Can's People's Commissioning Fund Concert

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Last Thursday, Q2 Music presented a live audio stream of the Bang on a Can People's Commissioning Fund Concert featuring music of Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry.


Not At SXSW? Don’t Worry, Be Busy

Monday, March 10, 2014

You couldn’t make it to South By Southwest this year? That’s okay. Soundcheck's John Schaefer didn’t go either. So, what shall we do this week, here in New York City -- which is suddenly only the second-best musical center in the country? Well, here are some suggestions.

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The 12 Most Romantic Songs Ever... Maybe

Thursday, February 13, 2014

All week, Soundcheck challenged listeners to nominate The Most Romantic Song Ever -- and to make a case for why that song was right and all the hundreds of other songs people were suggesting were somehow wrong. Soundcheck host John Schaefer wades through the results and presents this crowd-sourced playlist.

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The Beatles Effect, Fifty Years Later

Friday, February 07, 2014

With the 50th anniversary of The Beatles's legendary performance on the Ed Sullivan Show this sunday, we take a look at the modern bands who owe John, Paul, George, and Ringo some credit. From Radiohead to Broken Bells, John Schaefer, host of WNYC's Soundcheck, explains why so many bands draw on the experimental yet harmony-driven music of The Beatles.

Comments [3]

Exploring The Underground Music of Russia

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Opening Ceremony to the Sochi Olympics will feature an array of national anthems and the Olympics theme song.  But for Russians, and Russian Americans, the music of Sochi and of the nation goes far beyond the slopes and podiums. John Schaefer, host of Soundcheck, shares some Russian tunes to enjoy during the Olympics.

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New York Guitar Festival Marathon Celebrates 'Las Americas'

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hear select performances from the 2014 New York Guitar Festival Marathon, held at New York's Merkin Concert Hall.

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Pete Seeger: Out Of One Voice, Many

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger wasn’t just a folk singer: He was the model, the exemplar of what most Americans mean when they say “folk singer.” Soundcheck host John Schaefer has this remembrance of the folk artist and activist, who died Monday at age 94.

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Knee-Jerk Reaction: The Hold Steady's New Song Shows Its 'Teeth'

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Hold Steady is set release Teeth Dreams, its first record since 2010's Heaven Is Whenever on March 25 and the band has given fans a first taste with the song "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You." Members of the Soundcheck team give the new track a spin and have these first impressions.

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John Newman’s Early Contender For Song Of The Year

Friday, January 10, 2014

The year is only a little over a week old, but Soundcheck host John Schaefer thinks John Newman's single "Love Me Again" may be the next big thing from the U.K.

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Comments [2]

On-Demand Audio: Hilliard Ensemble's Farewell to New York Audiences

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Hear one of the world’s finest vocal chamber groups, the Hilliard Ensemble, on Q2 Music. The program is part of the Hilliard's farewell tour, as the group will disband in late 2014.


Ten Reasons Why New York Ruled the Music Scene in 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It was a year when Beyonce surprised fans with an unexpected new album. And she made history becoming the first woman to hit number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with her five studio albums. Her husband Jay-Z and pop star Lady Gaga also had new records out. And a teenager from New Zealand, Lorde, became a hit. But John Schaefer, host of WNYC's Soundcheck, says it was New York that ruled the music scene in 2013, and he has a list of ten reasons why.


John Schaefer's Top Ten Reasons Why New York Music Ruled The World In 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

It may seem odd to trumpet New York’s musical clout in a year when New York’s biggest names did not rise to the occasion. But New York music still ruled the world in 2013. Soundcheck host John Schaefer counts down his top ten reasons why.

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'Perfume For Winnie, And Nelson's Shade': A Musical Memory Of Nelson Mandela

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president and a treasured symbol of hope in the struggle against racial oppression, died Thursday at 95. Soundcheck host John Schaefer has this musical remembrance.

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Rock Me Amadeus: A Mozart Guide From A To Z

Monday, November 25, 2013

All November, WNYC's classical music sister station is celebrating Mozart Month. Soundcheck host John Schaefer shares this handy A-Z guide to the prolific icon.

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Comments [1]

Dual Threat Author-Musician James McBride Wins The National Book Award

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The author and musician James McBride won The National Book Award for his novel The Good Lord Bird. Soundcheck host John Schaefer reflects on the book and talking to McBride in a recent session with his band.

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