James Bickers, Long-Time Louisville Public Media Host, Has Died

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James Bickers, who served as a host on 89.3 WFPL and 91.9 WFPK for nearly 20 years, died on Thursday. He was 45 years old.

Bickers, an affable and engaging host with a seemingly endless capacity for knowledge that spanned the pop culture spectrum, hosted a variety of Louisville Public Media programs over the years, including an eight-year stint as the morning drive host on 91.9 WFPK and two years as afternoon jazz host.

He also hosted and produced “Down and Nerdy,” a pop culture podcast that demonstrated Bickers’ range — and, of course, his humor.

On 89.3 WFPL, Bickers hosted and produced a long-running literary talk show called On Second Thought. Most recently, he was the local voice of NPR’s Morning Edition. He left Louisville Public Media earlier this year.

“James was our renaissance man: music lover, writer, philosopher, humorist and resident pop culture nerd,”  said Stacy Owen, WFPK program director and longtime colleague. “We loved him for these many talents and admired his kind nature and obvious love for his family. Our hearts are breaking.”

As morning host on WFPK, Bickers developed a loyal following with his signature voice and style. He would open his show with the phrase “Good morning, fellow babies!,” then launch into a favorite song from his eclectic tastes, which ran from prog rock to classic jazz.

He was fun to listen to and work with. He was a kind soul. And he was an unrepentant Rush fan.

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WFPK Music Director Kyle Meredith summed up the way Bickers could make anyone smile.

James had a brilliant sense of humor and wit,” Meredith said. “He and I were both fans of broken jokes and would trade them as often as possible. I’m grateful that, Wednesday at the hospital, I was able to throw one back at him, my favorite of the ones he had taught me: Do you know what’s green and has three wheels? Grass. I lied about the wheels.”

Along with hosting Morning Edition on 89.3 WFPL, Bickers conducted long-form interviews with authors, thinkers, artists, musicians and newsmakers. He won a 2016 Kentucky Associated Press Broadcasters award for his meditation on the music of Louisville singer-songwriter Joan Shelley.

His 2015 interview with food writer Mark Bittman was typical of Bickers’ approach: It opens with the interviewer’s intimate, disarming admission that he’s a big fan.

“If I could embarrass you for a second, I have here my personal family copy of ‘How to Cook Everything,’” Bickers says. “It’s from 1998. It is browned and pockmarked and dog-eared and beginning to fall apart, and it’s the most useful cookbook ever.”

In typical fashion, Bickers follows with a probing question about Bittman’s philosophy of food that sends the interview into unforeseen places.

Bickers is survived by his wife, Nancy, and their three children.

Waterfront Wednesday September 28th!

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The WFPK Waterfront Wednesday® Concert Series is a monthly free concert on the Big Four Lawn in Louisville Waterfront Park, located next to the Big Four Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge. The Big Four Lawn “opens” at 5pm, and the music begins promptly at 6pm. Have questions? Check out our FAQ page!

To alleviate parking congestion caused by the KY/IN Bridges project, a free trolley service, courtesy of Republic Bank, will be offered between Witherspoon and the Big Four Lawn for people who park West of I-65. The Republic Bank Easy Trolley will run a continuous loop between 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. We strongly suggest parking West of I -65 in the Witherspoon, Humana and surface lots. Increased bicycle parking will be offered in the event area, courtesy of Parkside Bikes. VIEW MAP OF PARKING OPTIONS HERE.

Waterfront Wednesday August 31!

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The WFPK Waterfront Wednesday® Concert Series is a monthly free concert on the Big Four Lawn in Louisville Waterfront Park, located next to the Big Four Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge. The Big Four Lawn “opens” at 5pm, and the music begins promptly at 6pm. Have questions? Check out our FAQ page!

To alleviate parking congestion caused by the KY/IN Bridges project, a free trolley service, courtesy of Republic Bank, will be offered between Witherspoon and the Big Four Lawn for people who park West of I-65. The Republic Bank Easy Trolley will run a continuous loop between 6:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. We strongly suggest parking West of I -65 in the Witherspoon, Humana and surface lots. Increased bicycle parking will be offered in the event area, courtesy of Parkside Bikes. VIEW MAP OF PARKING OPTIONS HERE.

Forecastle Fun!

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WFPK is your official Forecastle station! We’ll be visiting with your favorite artists during live “Forecastle Face to Face” chats on Facebook all weekend; so make sure you turn on your live notifications on Facebook to stay in the know.

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While you’re at Forecastle don’t forget to visit our booth near the WFPK Port Stage for a chance to win tickets to next year’s festival! Your favorite WFPK hosts will also be hanging out at the booth throughout the weekend. (Located on your way to the WFPK Port Stage on the Harbor Lawn)

Friday July 15
4:30-5:30 – John Timmons
7:30-8:30 – Sean Cannon

Saturday July 16
3:00-4:00 – Meg Samples
5:30-6:30 – Sean Cannon
6:00-7:00 – John King

Sunday July 17
3:30-4:30 – Laura Shine
6:30-7:30 – Kyle Meredith and Stacy Owen
7:00-8:00 – Sean Cannon

Reggae Picnic June 25th!

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World Force Reggae hosts Benny and Ibuka will meet you at Waterfront Park’s Brown Forman Amphitheater Saturday, June 25th from 4pm to 8pm! Commune with friends and family, picnic under the trees and help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of World Force Reggae (yum…that means cake)! We’ll provide the reggae music and games for the young ones. You can also take them to cool off at the Adventure Playground water features nearby! This event is FREE. Check out some photos from last year!

Bring your own picnic, or purchase dinner from us. We’ll provide jerk chicken on the grill for $5, prepared by our very own Ibuka! Park Map

WFPK’s Reggae Picnic on June 25th is sponsored by Sysco Louisville and West Sixth Brewing.

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Schedule for the day:
4:00 – Event begins
4-8 – DJs Benny, Matt Anthony and DJ Mixa provide the tunes!
4:30 – Kids activities
5:00 – Jerk chicken on the grill is served!
5:30 – Kids activities
6:30 – Live music from Positive Mental Attitude

Address to use with GPS:
BROWN-FORMAN AMPHITHEATER
TURQUOISE PARKING
1301 RIVER ROAD
38.26299, -85.73222

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WFPK Waterfront Wednesday May 25

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The WFPK Waterfront Wednesday Concert Series presents free monthly concerts on the Big Four Lawn next to the Big Four Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge. Each concert attracts thousands to the Waterfront to mingle, dance and enjoy the river in a family-friendly park atmosphere on select Wednesdays of every month, April through September. The event has become a thriving city institution, helping Louisville secure an international award as a top city for festivals.