Alive and Picking started in the mid-1970s as a two-hour Saturday morning folk and bluegrass radio show which I produced and hosted on KCSN-FM, located on campus at California State University at Northridge. On that station and in that format it existed for approximately three or four years (all dates approximate!) I was simultaneously running a traditional music record store in Pasadena (which later moved to Santa Monica), co-hosting a weekly folk, bluegrass and country show called Sweethearts of the Radio on KCSN with my close friend Linda Mack, hosting a two-hour weekly blues radio show, Preaching the Blues, on KPFK, working nights and weekends as a freelance music writer, and single parenting my two youngest children. Something had to go, and it was the KCSN folk show. In the early 1980s I revived it, still called Alive and Picking, as a one-hour program on KPFK on Thursday mornings from 6-7 a.m. as part of the station's now-defunct Sunrise Concert series. Did that for a couple of years, then passed it along to Ben Elder, whose show Wildwood Flower would continue for twenty years. I kept doing the blues show, though.
Eventually, however, my increasing work as a reissue producer and annotator, coupled with my need to make a living, forced me to retire from my unpaid work on the airwaves for a while. (A while morphed into about twenty years.) During this time I saw my children grow, leave home, marry and begin their own lives; wrote several essays, later published in books (click here to see bibliography); and produced and annotated over 200 LPs and CDs of various kinds of folk, roots and blues music (click here to see discography, or for more entries go to www.allmusic.com and type Mary Katherine Aldin into the box where it says "enter name of artist"). Oh yes, and I worked a full time day job too. In approximately 1985 I handed off the blues show to my close friend Ed Archer, who hosted it for many years but eventually retired, and I "kept my hand in" on public radio by occasionally guest hosting the blues show for Ed or the bluegrass show for Ben when they were out of town.
Fast forward a couple of decades:
In October of 2000 I was called by Betto Arcos, then the music
at KPFK, who knew me from my occasional work as Ben and Ed's substitute
invited me to revive Alive
and Picking yet again, as a one-night
show for Roz and Howard Larman's show Folkscene,
which was off the air temporarily due to a dispute with station
I did that, with the understanding that it was only on a temporary
on Sunday, October 22, 2000, and the show continued, still only on a
basis, for seventeen months, through April of 2002, when the Larmans
and Folkscene finally
resolved their differences with KPFK and returned to the airwaves.
The Calendar page, which was originally created for Alive and
Picking's Sunday night 2000-2002 incarnation, continued to be
maintained as an independent entity.
Then sometime in 2007 Alive
and Picking was invited back when Ben
Elder decided to retire from Wildwood
Flower after twenty years of getting up at 4:00 a.m. on
That lasted for awhile, then a change in station management shifted the
show off the air. A further change brought it back again in 2007, for
about a year, and then Mark Humphrey was invited to do a world music
show called Odyssey:
Journeys Through Folk Music in that time slot. Oh good, I
thought, I can sleep in on
Saturdays. Not so fast: Mark didn't know how to run the board, so
even though I no longer had a show I still got up at the crack
dawn every Saturday to go in and engineer for him! He was on from
January to July of
2008, then I came on, then off, then on, as the station went
through a number of changes. At present (August 2009) it apears that
the show is on, every Saturday morning from 6:00-8:00 a.m. But nothing
in life, or in public radio, is ever permanent.
Claire Chandler set up this web page for the show in May 2001, and maintained it for me for several months; she continues to attempt to hammer instructions into my head to enable me to update it myself. My grateful thanks to her for all her ongoing help.