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NON-COMM 2023 Ends on a High Note

Great performances, particularly strong panels, and an uncharacteristically civil music meeting highlighted a great event…

Ben Folds

By Paul Marszalek

The 2023 NON-COMMvention has wrapped, with slight modifications to the format only enhancing the event.

Musical performances were strong across the board, highlighting the format’s musical diversity. On the business side, the panels and sessions were also particularly good.

Jim McQuinn leads a star-studded panel of some of Public Radio’s top announcers.

Among the many standouts were “The Evolving Role of On-Air Hosts,” hosted by XPN’s Jim McGuinn; Dan Reed’s NON-COMMversation with Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney; and an interactive an data-driven “Still Persisting” panel that featured the work of Dr. Jada Watson from the University of Ottawa. More from that panel in future posts.

While the WXPN team always executes the event flawlessly, a slight tweak to the nightly musical performances strengthened the opportunity for attendees to network with each other: By changing the start times to 8pm from 7pm, attendees had more flexibility with regard to dinner meetings without having to rush back to see an opening artist. At the same time, artists, managers, and labels could worry a bit less about how crowded the room would be for those early slots.

Corin Tucker, Dan Reed, and Carrie Brownstein in the NON-COMMversation.

Another tweak that paid dividends came via the long-running Music Meeting – a session in which attendees hear and rate new music.

Traditionally, tracks have been submitted by the labels. However, over the years, many have become reluctant to submit new music for fear that an overly opinionated room could kill a song’s prospects even before it was released.

Last year, the meeting was particularly prickly. It’s possible that the Music Meeting went poorly due to roughly half the room developing COVID at the time.

Nonetheless, host Sean Coakley from Songlines this year solicited music ideas from radio station personnel and other tastemakers, and enlisted Margot Chobanian from The Colorado Sound as a Music Meeting co-host.

The result was an uncharacteristically civil session.

Nanna from Of Monsters and Men was sadly nixed from appearing on Jimmy Fallon’s program due to the writer’s strike. However, a warm welcome awaited her at NON-COMM.


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