MADISON — Jonathan Overby, host of the popular global music program “The Road to Higher Ground” on Wisconsin Public Radio, has been inducted into Folk Alliance International’s Folk DJ Hall of Fame, WPR announced today.
Overby joins a short list of distinguished broadcasters from around the world who are past recipients of this honor, including the BBC’s Bob Harris, the CBC’s Holger Peterson, NPR’s Fiona Ritche and Radio Nacional de España’s Manolo Fernández. The honor was presented May 18 in a ceremony in Kansas City.
“I grew up in the inner city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and there I learned the power of hatred, distrust and fear,” Overby said in his acceptance speech thanking FAI. “But the power of music that I would learn later in life, taught me about music and its power to create love, unity, inclusion and the celebration of people who were different than me. Not just because they were different, but in spite of their difference. I use my radio program to celebrate those people with the hope of creating a better understanding between diverse groups en route to reducing human hatred.”
The Folk DJ Hall of Fame recognizes radio hosts who have made an outstanding contribution to the preservation, promotion, and presentation of folk music, and who have demonstrated and inspired leadership in the broadcast field.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Overby attended Rufus King High School where he got his first taste of radio as a play-by-play announcer for school sports. Overby has formed and conducted numerous music ensembles throughout his career and performed as a concert artist and in groups throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan. Prior to joining WPR, he produced and hosted a weekly gospel music program on Madison’s W.O.R.T. community radio for more than 20 years.
Overby is also the host and executive producer of the annual State of Wisconsin Tribute and Ceremony Honoring the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the oldest state celebration in the nation. He was appointed to the State Arts Board by Governor Tommy Thompson and served 12 years.
Overby was named a distinguished broadcaster at the university in 2013 and honored with the U.W. Colleges and Extension “Wisconsin Idea Award” in 2016. He holds a doctorate in administrative leadership in higher education from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and frequently leads international group trips for research and experiential education.
Find more details about this award, Overby and “The Road to Higher Ground” at wpr.org.