Browse Topics



For immediate release
December 12, 2005
Chad Campbell, NPR: | (202) 513-2304



NPR and WBGO Jazz 88 Producing 26th Annual 12-Hour "Toast of the Nation" From Tipitina's, with Local Musicians Performing at Home for First Time since Disaster

Washington, D.C. -- NPR's 26th annual New Year's Eve special will be hosted from New Orleans' famous Tipitina's nightclub, marking the first live music broadcast from the city since Hurricane Katrina, and will feature a number of local musical artists who have not performed in their hometown since then.

The 12-hour special, offering jazz and blues from coast-to-coast, is part of NPR's extensive holiday programming line-up, including such specials as the long-running Hanukkah Lights, original stories about the holiday; Christmas from the World Café, and A Car Talk Christmas Carol, a somewhat different approach to the classic tale.

The music that defines New Orleans will be reverberating once again in the Big Easy on New Year's Eve with WBGO Jazz 88/Newark and NPR's signature coast-to-coast special, Toast of the Nation. The special will originate from the legendary music venue Tipitina's Uptown beginning at 6PM (ET) and, throughout the night, will also feature performances from Washington, DC; Boston, MA; New York, NY; Portland, OR; Sanibel Island, FL; and Columbia, MO.

NPR and WBGO are working with the Tipitina's Foundation, established to help New Orleans artists recover and preserve the city's cultural traditions. Bill Taylor, Director of Tipitina's Foundation, explains, "We want to send the message that New Orleans is up and running and it's okay to come back. Having a street parade and this great show on New Year's Eve is what Tipitina's is really excited about." WBGO's Rhonda Hamilton will host from a specially built "broadcast village" at Tipitina's. The club will feature live performances from local musicians The Hot 8 Brass Band and funk band Galactic, performing at home for the first time since the hurricane. Other live performances will include The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band from the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.; New Orleans piano legend Henry Butler at Boston's Berklee College; the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Sanibel Island, Florida; the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, New York City; singer René Marie in Columbia, Missouri, and the 12-piece jazz orchestra Pink Martini from Portland, Oregon.

NPR's Toast of the Nation began in 1979 as a showcase for NPR's interconnected satellite system, the first in the nation. WBGO became co-producer in 1984. Toast of the Nation's 2004 edition became the highest-fidelity live radio broadcast in history by transmitting in 5.1 discrete digital surround sound, bringing the home theatre experience to the radio dial for the very first time.

Toast of the Nation is the centerpiece of NPR's slate of more than 20 other specials designed for the holiday season. They range from Susan Stamberg's Hanukkah Lights, now in its 15th year, to the New Year's Day performance of the Vienna Philharmonic to A Car Talk Christmas Carol, a new take on an old classic with the Magliozzi brothers of the hit weekend show. NPR's holiday specials include:

A Car Talk Christmas Carol: The holiday classic is turned upside down by Car Talk hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi and a stellar cast of radio personalities including All Things Considered's Robert Siegel as Bob Cratchit. From NPR and WBUR/Boston. Photo Available.

Hanukkah Lights: The NPR tradition continues, as Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz host four authors exploring Hanukkah traditions through original stories. This year, a book version, Hanukkah Lights: Stories of the Season, has been published by Melcher Media and is available at

Christmas from the World Café: The innovative contemporary music program offers a "roots Christmas" featuring new takes on holiday classics as well as new contributions to the holiday tradition. David Dye hosts this one-hour special recorded at the World Café Live in Philadelphia. From NPR and WXPN/Philadelphia.

New Year's Day from Vienna: NPR takes you direct to the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna for the most popular classical music event in the world, the Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Day concert. This year's performance will be conducted by Mariss Jansons, with NPR's Korva Coleman hosting.

Paul Winter's Silver Solstice: From the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, the 25th-anniversary celebration of the solstice tradition in cultures around the world. Hosted by John Schaefer, The Paul Winter Consort is joined by musicians from Russia, Ireland, and Zimbabwe.

Handel's Messiah from Disney Hall: NPR and CBC/Radio Canada join forces for an all-star performance of Handel's masterpiece, featuring an American orchestra with a Canadian conductor and choir. This encore broadcast of a holiday classic comes from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and is hosted by NPR's Lisa Simeone and CBC's Mario Paquet.

New Year's Eve with the New York Philharmonic: NPR and WNYC/New York team up to offer the acclaimed New York Philharmonic New Year's Eve special. Hosted by NPR's Fred Child and WNYC's Margaret Juntwait.

Toast of the Nation is a co-production between WBGO/Newark, N.J., and NPR. The two organizations recently partnered to produce the radio broadcast of the Jazz at Lincoln Center "Higher Ground Relief Concert" featuring Norah Jones, James Taylor and Elvis Costello among many others. The event, a benefit for Hurricane Katrina victims, raised $2 million.

Other partners for Toast of the Nation include: the Tipitina's Foundation, KUVO/Denver, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, WGBH Radio/Boston, the South Carolina Educational Radio Network with WGCU/Fort Myers, KBIA/Columbia, the "We Always Swing" jazz series, Oregon Public Broadcasting with KOPB, and KMHD/Gresham, OR. Toast of the Nation is made possible with funding from AT&T.

To find your local station, please check

Photos available.

About NPR
Since its launch in 1970, NPR has evolved into a premier media company, primary news provider, cultural and arts innovator and dominant force in American life. In partnership with 815 public radio stations, it attracts nearly 26 million listeners to the 140 hours of broadcast programming it produces and distributes weekly. NPR also programs two 24/7 public radio channels on Sirius Satellite Radio. Its site features extensive original online content, hourly newscasts, audio streaming and comprehensive NPR archives; NPR's 33 podcasts are among the most-downloaded of any media organization. NPR programming is available in more than 140 countries through NPR Worldwide and American Forces Network.

About WBGO
WBGO/Jazz88.3FM serves the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area with mainstream jazz, blues, and award-winning news and public affairs programming. Non- commercial WBGO is supported by nearly 20,000 annual members and has over 400,000 weekly listeners. WBGO also streams its broadcast signal to audiences worldwide at Jazz88 was named the "Jazz Station of the Year" for 2001 by the Gavin Report and is also the recipient of the Blues Foundation's "Keeping the Blues Alive Award" for Achievement in Non-Commercial Radio. WBGO is a publicly-supported, cultural institution that champions jazz, an American art form, and presents news to a worldwide audience through radio, other technologies and events.