When children's music artist Susan Salidor noticed a "mom-like" person standing in the back of one her concerts-sans children-it seemed a bit strange. Salidor didn't know the woman would make her an offer she couldn't refuse.
Sheila Donlan wanted Salidor to join her weekend "Kids' Play" radio show, which broadcasts from 2-3 p.m. Saturdays from WLUW (88.7) FM, Loyola University's independent, noncommercial community radio station.
For Salidor, a veteran children's musician and teacher, it was a dream come true. "I've always fantasized about doing kids' radio," she says.
The fantasy became reality when she joined the show in May. "I love the opportunity to bring quality music to children and their families," Salidor says. "I'm hoping to help the station get tons of people listening."
Now Salidor is a large part of the show, occasionally performing live and hosting by herself once a month.
"She adds a nice dimension," Donlan says.
Donlan's inspiration for the show was her then-preschool-aged daughter's ability to memorize songs she heard.
"I realized what an impact music had on her world," Donlan says. She soon discovered that she was not alone and eventually developed a business plan and strategy for a radio program for children under 11.
Now in her third year on-air, Donlan targets more than an audience, she serves a movement.
"Kids' music is so great in Chicago, it's almost like another underground," says Shawn Campbell, WLUW program director.
If you tune in, don't expect to hear any purple dinosaur performances. Donlan says those are too corny, especially for adolescents. And she sympathizes with parents who don't want their children listening to pop stars such as Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne whose lyrics are often far too mature for young children.
"That music isn't appropriate for under 11," she says. "It only covers one genre, pop music. It doesn't cover all the genres of music [that are] out there."
She sees her mission as being a parent's music consultant. "It's not just for kids. Adults can laugh at it with kids," she says. Her program offers no pop, but lots of jazz, folk and contemporary rock. Its content is lighthearted and ranges from songs about chicken dances to doctor trips. She hopes her efforts lead to similar shows of similar quality nationwide.
"I want it to be done well, the vocals, the instrumentation," Donlan says. "Kids are really good at listening to music."
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