The Midnight Special (radio)

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The Midnight Special
Genre Folk music, farce,
showtunes, & satire
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
Home station WFMT-FM at 98.7 MHz
Syndicates Local: Mainly public radio (List of local syndicates)
Hosted by Mike Nichols
Norm Pellegrini
Ray Nordstrand
Rich Warren (currently)
Created by Mike Nichols
Recording studio Chicago, Illinois
Original release 1953 – present
Audio format Stereophonic
Opening theme The Midnight Special

The Midnight Special is a syndicated radio show broadcast on Chicago, Illinois radio station, WFMT-FM (98.7 MHz) since 1953. It is a showcase for folk and roots music from historical and contemporary artists. The show also features comedy sketches and show tunes. The official description is: "folk music & farce, show tunes & satire, madness & escape." The show is named after the well known folk song of the same name, which is often associated with Lead Belly, whose version of the song is used as the show's opening theme. The show title also tied into its time slot, as it was broadcast on WFMT near midnight every Saturday. It now begins at 9 p.m. and ends at midnight.

In 1953, Mike Nichols (later notable as a comedian, writer, actor, and director) created a Saturday evening folk music program. Early regular guests were local musicians including Fleming Brown, Win Stracke and Big Bill Broonzy. They would play in the station's studio, a converted ballroom on the West Side of Chicago. When Nichols left the program Norman Pellegrini became the host and it evolved to a mix of released and live-performance recordings, with only occasional live concerts. Ray Nordstrand also shared the hosting responsibilities of "The Midnight Special" until 1994. Various celebrities guest-hosted the program over the years, including Tom Paxton, and theater directors Frank Galati and Robert Falls.[1] In 1974, Rich Warren was hired to help produce the program and was invited to help out hosting in 1983. He became the sole host of the program in 1996.


  1. ^ Midnight Special history at

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