Voluntarily Musical

(from left to right): Robert Ginsburg and Mike Shirkey (photos by Russell Cothren)

(from left to right):
Robert Ginsburg and Mike Shirkey (photos by Russell Cothren)

by Jennifer Holland – Reprinted from The Benefactor

It’s 10 o’clock on Friday evening–the perfect time to prop up your feet, turn on the radio and unwind after a long week. If the station happens to be tuned to KUAF, you’ll soon hear the unpredictable yet soothing sounds of jazz fill the air, thanks to volunteer Robert Ginsburg and his show, “Shades of Jazz,” which airs every Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. until midnight.

Similarly, those driving to dinner on a Saturday evening might find themselves listening to a selection of bluegrass, singer-songwriters, honkytonk or acoustic blues if KUAF is their chosen station, thanks to Mike Shirkey and his program, “The Pickin' Post,” airing every Saturday from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Both shows are the result of numerous volunteer hours from two individuals who blend their love for music with an appreciation for public radio.

A volunteer with KUAF since 1979, Ginsburg moved to Arkansas from Columbia, Missouri, in 1976. Part of the attraction of joining the station was the availability of music to him, since it provided him with the opportunity to become familiar with KUAF’s library of work at his fingertips. Though he does not consider himself a musician, he believes his role as a volunteer at KUAF fuels his love for music.

“It keeps me in the center of what is happening in the music world,” says Ginsburg. “The next best thing to creating music is sharing it.”

Today, Ginsburg realizes what an asset the station is for the community and how much it has improved the quality of life for people in Northwest Arkansas.

Shirkey, a graduate of Fulbright College, moved to Northwest Arkansas from Stuttgart in 1965. Because he had taken radio programming classes in college, he was a natural fit for taking over “The Folk Show” from his predecessor. He has now volunteered with KUAF for more than 30 years.

“I like the diversity of this radio station,” he says. “It’s a fun place to be. There’s always something going on. I try to put together songs and tunes that will take folks on a two hour musical journey.”

Organizing and recording their weekly shows is the fun part for both. Still, Ginsburg and Shirkey also speak honestly and easily about the importance of financial support for KUAF and the incredible difference it makes for the station. Shirkey regularly volunteers with the fundraising drives and enjoys seeing the funds help pay for the daily programming.

“Many people don’t realize how little it costs to become a member,” says Ginsburg. “It’s good for the body, mind and soul.”

Jennifer Holland

About the author

Jennifer Holland serves as director of development communications for the University of Arkansas.