Celebrating Three Decades of Good Music, Good Roads With Dan Maher

Mar 3, 2014

For more than three decades, Dan Maher's weekly radio show and live performances have entertained folk music lovers around the Northwest
Credit Northwest Public Radio

It is late Saturday morning and with the first strains of Heidi Muller’s Good Roads, you know it’s once again time for Inland Folk with Dan Maher, a very popular show that's been around for more than 30 years.

Inland Folk premiered on Northwest Public Radio in September 1983 as a one-hour program, though Dan co-hosted a similar version on Spokane Public Radio for a year before that. It required a bus ride to Spokane every couple of weeks to record two or three shows at a time – and a huge load of vinyl on each trip.

Today, Dan records each three-hour show in a studio at Northwest Public Radio. It’s heard on 11 stations in our NPR and Classical Music network , as well as on Spokane Public Radio and on KZUU, a radio station owned and operated by the Associated Students of Washington State University.  

To many listeners Dan is a walking encyclopedia of folk music, but he says that wasn’t always the case. When he started, his knowledge was limited to a few contemporary artists; but through other musicians and community folk associations, he came to know much more about folk, and began playing unfamiliar music that stretched his boundaries.

Each week, Inland Folk weaves good music with stories about the musicians and their creative process. Dan brings you the heart and soul of folk, because he believes that is part of the tradition: music to be played and shared with audiences, and passed on to the next generation. The program also serves as a resource of folk music concerts, dances and other related events throughout the region.  

In addition to hosting the show, Dan is producer, researcher and technical engineer. With numerous technological changes over the years, Dan has adapted accordingly: from recording on to big reels of analog tape, to little digital audio tapes, and now to a computer hard drive.   
Each show lasts three hours, but takes several hours to research, produce and record. And Dan makes time for it, even though full-time job with WSU Student Involvement keeps him very busy, along with advising several student groups and attending many evening meetings. With so little free time, Dan often came in to the studios at 3 or 4 in the morning because that was the only time he had available to record!

This kind of dedication stems from Dan’s love of the music and his connection with listeners. He likes to present new and recent recordings, along with songs that have stood the test of time. He also enjoys happening upon CDs that might have missed his attention when they were released years ago. When Dan discovers something like that, it becomes a new gem for the show that week.

Dan is a member of Northwest Public Radio and TV, and also donates his time and talent during fund drives. You’ll hear him explain the importance of becoming a contributing member, and his bidding you to pledge. When fund drives ran a week or longer, Inland Folk pledge shows were very popular for Dan’s live performances of listener favorites, sometimes with special guests like former music director Robin Rilette. He would sing for three hours straight, often ending with the most requested song, Chipmunk with a Death Wish.

For many years Dan generously gave away mini-concerts as thank-you gifts during these pledge drives, which were wildly popular. He would travel to donors to give the concert – and he paid out of his own pocket for the travel, which took him all over the region performing for Northwest Public Radio members. Some of his concerts were used to raise money for other organizations, and some were birthday or anniversary presents for loved ones. Everyone could be guaranteed a good time at a Dan Maher concert – including the intrepid host, who’s developed many great friendships through these events.

Dan isn’t ready to retire from Inland Folk and will continue to entertain you every Saturday from 11 AM to 2 PM. And for those who can’t get enough, there is a huge Inland Folk archive going back to 2006 (scroll down below the playlist to access the archive.)