Michael Barone began his adventure with music amid his parent’s small classical record collection and through piano lessons with Stella Pickett (the “little old lady down the street”). He advanced to piano lessons with Marion Wallace (his church’s organist), took up tuba and played in school marching and concert bands (Howard Hallock and Robert Henderson, directors), sang in the high school glee club (Dorothy Turner, director), and finally “discovered” the pipe organ, urged on by neighborhood friend Robert Wech. In short, he grew into music in the usual, inexplicable way that some kids do, encouraged by a benignly supportive environment and the offerings of the public school system.
Barone earned a bachelor’s degree in music history from the Oberlin Conservatory, where he also became involved in radio during three years work at WOBC-FM, the student-run campus 10-watt station. Upon graduation in 1968, he was hired by KSJR-FM at St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN, and has continued with the outgrowth of that station, today’s Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media system, ever since. After 25 years as MPR Music Director, Barone focused on national program production (Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Pipedreams; A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols) and as Senior Executive Producer he is the longest tenured of all current MPR staff.
Barone is a past President of the Organ Historical Society (OHS) and the co-founder of the Chamber Music Society of Saint Cloud. He received the President’s Award from the American Guild of Organists in 1996, the OHS Distinguished Service Award in 1997, and the Deems Taylor Broadcast Award for Excellence from ASCAP/American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in 2001. He served as consultant to the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ project in Los Angeles and is an acting advisor on organ programming for the Kimmel Center/Verizon Hall in Philadelphia.
Pipedreams is heard on select public radio stations nationwide, and new weekly two-hour programs and a large archive of previous broadcasts can be accessed 24/7 at pipedreams.org.