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Oscar Brand, Host Of WNYC's 'Folksong Festival,' Dies At 96


Week after week for more than 70 years, this voice lit up the airwaves on Public Radio's WNYC.


OSCAR BRAND, BYLINE: Good evening, Friend, and welcome once again to a "Folksong Festival."

CORNISH: That's Oscar Brand introducing his show "Folksong Festival" in 1946. Guinness World Records says it was the longest-running radio program hosted by the same person.

BRAND: Oscar Brand died Friday at the age of 96. He heralded the folk movement in the late 1940s and '50s. He interviewed everyone from Woody Guthrie to Joan Baez, B.B. King and Lead Belly. The list of greats was long, including this chat with a 20-year-old from Minnesota.


BRAND: Now let's return to our guest this evening. His name is Bob Dylan. Bob was born in Duluth, Minn., but Bob, you weren't raised in Duluth, were you?

BOB DYLAN: No, I was raised in Gallup, N.M.

BRAND: And did you get many songs there?

DYLAN: Got a lot of cowboy songs there, Indians songs, carnival songs, that vaudeville kind of stuff.

CORNISH: For all the decades that Oscar Brand hosted "Folksong Festival," he wasn't getting a paycheck. He made his living as a professional musician, performing, writing songs, scoring plays and commercials.


Oscar Brand's last "Folksong Festival" show aired at the end of last month, ending a radio career that began in 1945.


BRAND: Well, there's another Sunday shot to shreds. I guess I'll see you again next week by the light of the municipal moon. And I hope you'll enjoy our transcribed Labor Day program.

(Singing) New York gals, won't you come out tonight? Won't you come out tonight? Won't you come out tonight? New York gals, won't you come out tonight? And we'll dance by the light of the moon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.