John Floridis hosts a 25th anniversary celebration of Musicians' Spotlight with musical highlights and interview segments from some of the most engaging guests in the program's history. Featured artists include Alison Krauss, B.B. King, David Grisman, Shawn Colvin, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lyle Lovett, Lila Downs and numerous Montana musicians such as Darko Butarac, Eden Atwood and Tom Catmull.
In April 2017, The Missoula Independent's Ednor Therriault profiled John's two decades as host of Musicians' Spotlight. Here are a few excerpts:
"I love to talk shop," he says, acknowledging the impassioned conversations that quickly spin off into geekery when one musician interviews another. "Over the years I've worked to try and find the story of the artist. The trick is to bring the artist in and let them get comfortable without geeking out too much."
Some of the best shows, he says, were the ones where he was pulled into unfamiliar territory and came away with a new understanding of a little slice of the musical universe. "When the (Sierra Leone) Refugee All Stars came through town, I'd never heard much about them, but the music held up. They were actual refugees! They'd formed this band in refugee camps in Sierra Leone." He wrangled an interview with a member of the group, and was unprepared for the horrors the man shared. "I'd sit across from this guy and he'd tell me about being tortured. That was something, to look someone right in the eye and tell them about that." He pauses, obviously still haunted by the episode. "To get somebody who can bring a cultural experience to the table, that's a great thing. It's like going to another place."
"I'd be hard pressed to think of a time when I wasn't having fun. I always shoot for the highest common denominator. I think you can say that about public radio listeners in general—they're always looking for something deeper."