The Lost Synthesizers Of Don Voegeli & National Public Radio

If you’re a National Public Radio (NPR) listener, you’re familiar with the music of composer Don Voegeli, above.

In the 1970’s, Voegeli was a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and the music director at WHA (now known as Wisconsin Public Radio). Voegeli had composed music for commercials and television, and was asked to write the theme song for the Corporation For Public Broadcasting’s first daily news program – All Things Considered.

Voegeli turned to the then-futuristic sound of synthesizers, composing and arranging music for the show in his Electrosonic Studio.

Within just a few years, the show had grown and producers wanted a more iconic theme. And Voegeli created a jaunty ‘switched-on’ theme for the show:

They don’t make ’em like this anymore – NPR listeners have heard Voegeli’s theme in orchestrated versions for decades.

After Voegeli retired in 1982, WHA auctioned his equipment off. There are no records of where the instruments went. Wisconsin Public Radio’s Maureen McCollum tells the story of the search for Voegeli’s lost instruments below:

The hunt for Voegeli’s VCS 3 and Moog synthesizers has ended up in a dead end, but a few later synths were purchased by composer and sound designer Tom Naunas. You can see some of Voegeli’s instruments at the Wisconsin Public Radio site.

Unfortunately, where the rest of Voegeli’s Electrosonic Studio ended up is still a puzzle. If any readers happen to have additional information, you can contact Wisconsin Public Radio via their site.

6 thoughts on “The Lost Synthesizers Of Don Voegeli & National Public Radio

  1. Thank you very much, Synthopia, for this kind of very much interesting information about pioneer-scholars within the history of electronic musique.

  2. It’s really a shame that no one stopped to consider the historical significance of his equipment before selling it off. Seems Iike people thought “we have computers now, no one will ever need to use a Moog ever again”.

    It reminds me of how in the mid-20th century, many American cities demolished most of their 19th century buildings in favor of brutalist, modern architecture that is utterly lacking in aesthetic beauty. So often we are eager to throw away the old in favor of the new, because it’s sleek and shiny and it makes life easier. But there’s always a point where we stop and realize that we have lost something intangible but extraordinary, and when we turn around to look for it, it’s like trying to find a pearl on a white sand beach.

    I’m glad WPR is at least trying to find their pearl, and I wish them the best of luck.

  3. Love the jaunty jingling sounds I remember from the old ‘all things considered’ clip. The Disney World Electric Water Pageant is another running exhibit of original Moog Modular music in still production. It definitely has ‘that Moog sound’.

  4. if memory serves, my fellow BSEM alum Mark Styles turned in a nice, modular a-la-Larry Fast version of the ATC theme also – early 80’s maybe?

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