by Dan Bolles
On Wednesday, April 24, the Vermont Legislature surprised Joel Najman with a resolution congratulating the local DJ on his 30th anniversary as the host of the Vermont Public Radio show, and rock-and-roll time machine, "My Place."
"My Place" was originally hosted by David Field and began life as a wide-ranging, interactive retrospective of rock and roll from the 1950s and ’60s. But Najman dramatically revamped the show's format when he took over in 1983, after serving as a substitute host the year prior.
Najman is as passionate a musicologist as he is a fan, which is really saying something. In each hourlong episode, he hones in on a specific theme or topic, sometimes sharpening his focus to a single song, and examines its historical context and cultural importance in painstaking detail.
He's said those details can take years — yes, years — of sleuthing to fully unearth. Recent episodes of "My Place" have explored the first and second waves of the British Invasion, Berry Gordy's pre-Motown canon and "Popular Songs About Women."
“There are a lot of oldies stations, and you can buy oldies CDs, or go online and MP3 them or however you want to get the music,” said Najman in a 2007 interview with Seven Days celebrating his 25th anniversary. “But it’s relating it to the evolving culture of that time and the stories behind the songs — how they came about, how they were made — which has always been my hobby.”
If you're into stiff, overly formal verbiage with lots of "Whereas"-es, you can read the full resolution here. Whereas, if you'd like to hear from the man himself, Najman will appear as a guest on VPR's "Vermont Edition" on Monday, April 29.
Whereas, you could also listen to "My Place" on VPR Saturdays at 8 p.m.