Andy Moore isn't interested in imitating Austin City Limits. But he'd be very happy if his new weekly music show for Wisconsin Public Television could help raise the profile of the Wisconsin and Midwestern artists on which he'll focus. Set to debut in January on WPT's new Wisconsin Channel (formerly WPT2), the show will feature a different artist performing each week.
For the first three episodes, Moore has booked three Americana-leaning singer/guitarists, Pat MacDonald, Willy Porter and Robbie Fulks.
"I think it's a great first blast of talent," says Moore as he surveys WPT's outsize Weston Studio, which will serve as home base for the tightly budgeted show. "I'd be hard-pressed to think of three different guitarists who have more different motives and takes on their art. Not to mention presence."
Moore is a longtime news producer at Wisconsin Public Television (and an Isthmus contributor). He currently produces Here and Now, and he has no plans to leave that gig. But even though the extra duties will mean some very long days, he says the chance to develop original music programming was too tempting to pass up.
"I'll be the producer and the host. Part of the deal is that I'll be doing all the promotion, too," he says animatedly. "But that's okay. This is what we do at Wisconsin Public Television: We bring news and culture to the state. And I believe that artists and musicians deserve as much time as politicians and celebrities."
The taped show won't utilize a live audience, but Moore doesn't think that's a hardship. He notes that part of the Wisconsin Channel's brief is to break free from the stiff, ultra-serious production style viewers often associate with public TV. To achieve an edgier, more spontaneous feel, he plans to break up each performance segment with quick interviews that will see him wandering on stage to quiz musicians about songwriting, their musicianship and the history of the genres in which they're working.
"Hopefully, we'll reveal some of the personalities of the musicians who are with us," Moore says. "But we'll always relate to the music, the art, the performance."
To add to the action on stage, a handheld camera will follow Moore during the interviews. The show won't have a strict half-hour running time, adding to what he hopes will be its "rough and raw" quality.
"It could be 37 minutes, it could be 34," Moore muses. "If things are going well, and I feel motivated to hear one more song, we'll do it! If the conversation is going nicely, I don't have anyone in my ear saying, 'Wrap!'"
Not enough spontaneity for you? Plans are afoot to webcast each taping live.
Moore admits that his own tastes lean toward American roots music. (Fans may recognize him for his work with Madison's Cork n' Bottle String Band.) But he's certain that won't affect the content of the show.
"I can't conceal the fact that, especially at the beginning, it will be the music I know the most about," Moore says as WPT staffers began filing into the Weston Studio to set up for another program. "But it's safe to say that we'll have rock 'n' roll, we'll have pop, we'll have ska, we'll have some hip-hop, we'll have some bluegrass and some old-school country. That's a pretty good mix, I think."