Reed Hessler

Evening Host Reed Hessler asking for pledges during WBJC’s 2012 Winter Drive

WBJC was a very different place when I started in December of 1978. Certainly a better station now, but each era has its memories. As we evolved, our listeners have always been there for us, and I am grateful. Many people have told me they listen because they find classical music relaxing. At times it has relaxed me too.

But for that matter, there is no human condition it can’t summon to life. It’s a religious experience.

My love of music was stimulated by my music teacher parents, and was fostered through choral singing as a youth, hearing and loving the Verdi Requiem at age thirteen, and discovering while pursuing an English degree in college that the counterpoint in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony turned me on as much as the electric guitar and bass lines in Jefferson Airplane. Ultimately, I became an obsessive classical music listener and returned to school to study music.

My interest in film history is equal to my love for music. I have probably seen about fifteen thousand films in my life. From 1994 to 1999, I taught a full credit course in Asian film at Johns Hopkins University. I have seen over one thousand Japanese films alone, going back to the silent era.

In 1997 and 1998, I taught American and ethnic music at Western High School. This rekindled my interest in the entire panoply of American music, beginning with the history of the blues…from Bessie Smith through Muddy Waters and beyond; to jazz, which my wife and I fell asleep to every night for over ten years, expanding upon my earlier love for John Coltrane, with a new passion for Thelonious Monk, and all the 60’s Blue Note artists who played with Art Blakey; and from there to 1920’s American roots music, contemporary alt country, and indie rock. There is no music I don’t like, or at least haven’t tried.

Since 2009, I have been tracing my family genealogy. My latest hobby is writing poetry. And, yes, I have a cat.

My wife for thirty-three years was Dyane Fancey, a poet. We spent all our spare time together, and, needless to say, she heard a lot of music, and saw a lot of movies. Dyane died suddenly in April 2014. She was a remarkable person. Her memory has kept me strong. In the last twenty months of her life, Dyane came to love Renaissance choral music, and it replaced jazz as the music we fell asleep to. Just a few days before she died, Dyane commented on a Renaissance mass. I told her it was Palestrina, and she exclaimed, “I’m SO glad we got into this music!”

In the last two years, there has been a “special woman” in my life: Michele McCarthy, a career counselor, who lives in Silver Spring. We see each other all the time, and the next time is never soon enough. We’re like two school children falling in love for the first time, and expect our future to be with each other.

Reed can be contacted at

Reed’s Articles:

Elgar – the Last Romantic
World Classical Music 
Why Does Beethoven Sound Different From Strauss?

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