Hometown (and other places lived): Poughkeepsie, NY; Boston, MA; New Haven, CT; Los Angeles, CA.
What would I do for a living if not on air: The other things I already do: composing, performing, teaching.
What do you feel most proud of: My children, Jake and Molly, both of whom are musicians (How did that happen?) and good people.
How do you spend your free time: What is “free time”?
Best thing about living in California: Almost never having to factor the weather into your plans.
Favorite Meal: If I had to pick just one, it’d be that morning my wife and I stood in line for more than two hours at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo to eat the most amazing, delicate, spectacular sushi we’ve ever had. Years later, we still dream about it.
Favorite Piece: Can’t do a favorite piece, but I can give you some favorite composers. Igor Stravinsky, Caroline Shaw, J.S. Bach, Reena Esmail, Gustav Mahler, and Julia Wolfe.
Passion for: Double Stuf Oreos.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why: Antarctica. The photos and videos I’ve seen of it are absolutely stunning, there’s no place like it on earth, and I’d really love to be able to say I’ve visited all seven continents.
Best thing about living in the California: I’m supposed to say, “the weather,” here…and, sure, it’s pretty great. But what I love most about living in California are the people. We have some of the most diverse cities in the world and you really feel that every single day. We have so much to learn from one another and living in close proximity to people from so many different cultural backgrounds truly reinforces that we share more than divides us and that we’re all in this together.
Hometown: Oakland, CA.
Quote: “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” -Sophia Loren.
Vacation: a summer week on Lake Tahoe.
No one would guess: I hate vegetables.
Hometown: San Anselmo. My mom’s family has been in the Ross Valley since the 1850s.
Other places lived: San Diego, St. Louis, and Portland
Education: Almost seven years of college searching for a degree I never found. Studied: Film and broadcasting.
Family: Middle child in a close family. Married to my great love, Jacqueline. Father to Jody and Bear. Jody works in San Diego and my son Bear lives in the Bay Area.
Other interests: TRAVEL! Still have great flight privileges with United Airlines in Jacquie’s retirement.
Favorite sport: Like to sail, especially alone in a small boat when it’s just you against the wind.
Passion for: Cooking. I think it’s time for some classes on technique. I haven’t poisoned anyone…yet.
What would I do for a living if not on air?: I really haven’t a clue. I love what I do and so fortunate to still have the chance to do it!
Greatest professional achievement: Named to the Bay Area Broadcasters Hall of Fame and Winning “Bay Area’s Best” Award 2007 – 2010 as “Favorite Morning Show” thanks to SF Magazine readers. You are the best!
Best thing about living in the Bay Area: The overwhelming sense of “home” I feel here and there is so much to see and do. They should make weekends longer so we can fit all the fun in. Oh wait! I’m semi-retired now so I stay home weekends and get out during the week when it’s less crowded.
What’s something that no one would guess about you: My accordion playing was once heard from coast to coast on the NPR show “Performance Today.” I was working on the show when we did an April Fool’s segment about Yo-Yo Ma giving up the cello for the bandoneon – a professional accordion player’s music was used through the piece, but I played the melody of our closing theme under the end-of-show credits.
Passion for: Crossword puzzles, turning chaos into order (although you’d never know it from my desk). It’s why I love editing audio, from back in the day when razor blades were involved.
Favorite Piece: It depends on the day… There are some that I love for their complexity and power, like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring; some for the memories of first hearings, like Saint-Saens’ “Organ Symphony” – when someone very proud of their stereo amplifier played it for me on LP, and the finale all but parted my hair; or other finales of pieces I always react to with either a shiver, tears, or both, like Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony or Honegger’s oratorio Le Roi David. But since I couldn’t leave Bach out, the St. Matthew Passion, and I love the schmaltz of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto… but then there’s Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and Tallis’s Spem in Alium, and Arvo Pärt…
If you won the lottery, what would you do: I always used to joke if I won the lottery, I’d get a string quartet in residence. I still don’t think it’s such a bad idea…
Best thing about living in the Bay Area: As a transplant to the Bay Area, having lived on the East Coast for all but a few college years, I’ve been making up for lost time experiencing what it can offer, and I continue to be amazed. From exploring the neighborhoods of San Francisco, to coastal views and hikes, to entirely different landscapes in wine country, there’s always something to discover.
Hometown and/or other places lived: I call Virginia Beach, VA my home, but we moved a lot when I was kid since my dad was in the Navy. I also really loved living in Rhode Island and the DC area while growing up.
Favorite Piece: There’s so many! It’s like trying to pick your favorite child. But if I had to pick one that especially resonates with me it would be the Tuba mirum from the Berlioz Requiem. I sang this work my first year in graduate school at Westminster Choir College with the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall, complete with double brass choir. The feeling in my chest when the brass kicks in for the first time is indescribable.
Most unusual prior job (and probably the thing no one would guess about me): I wrote video game reviews, walkthroughs, and conducted interviews with game developers and composers for an online video game magazine for nearly ten years. I even had the opportunity to cover the E3 gaming convention in 2005!
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why: I have a passion for ancient archeological sites, like Machu Picchu and the Coliseum. I blame watching Indiana Jones and The Voyage of the Mimi when I was a kid. I would love to do a world tour to visit some of these. There’s something about being able to physically touch an ancient object or building that I find fascinating.
How do you spend your free time: I’m an avid fan of video games, comic books, and the accompanying television shows and movies. My radio and singing careers keep me busy, but when I do find some free time I like to keep up with the latest in pop culture.
What do you feel most proud of: By becoming part of the KDFC family, I’ve been able to blend my love for music and radio. I consider it a huge honor to be part of this community. I still pinch myself every time I head into the studio.
John Van Driel
Home or other places lived: I was born and raised in Edmonton Alberta, the youngest of 6 that emigrated to Canada from the Netherland the same year I was born. I’ve spent the last 38 years in Toronto and moved to California in 2016.
Most unusual prior jobs: As a student I had some rather unusual summer job, working on a pig farm, a sheep farm and a cattle ranch in the Rockies. Eventually, I moved on to spend a summer as a garbage man and installing sewer pipes in a new housing
development, not glamorous but it paid for college.
Favorite Vacation: 2 weeks on the beach of the Florida Gulf coast, perfect mix of surf, sun and sand.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to try: I’ve always wanted to try skydiving. The thought is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.
Best things about living in California: The weather is perfect and the is so much to see and do. Never a dull moment.
What was your “Love at First Listen”? My own first touches on the piano keyboard! I fell in love with the sound of the instrument when I was about 3 years old, and I’ve never looked back. My very first clear memory is at the piano, in my first baby music class…the teacher was showing me something at the keyboard and one of the other kids was playing around on the floor and distracting the teacher, and I remember being so bewildered that that little boy didn’t want to pay attention to the music! And then as I started lessons, every new piece of music I was assigned was a thrilling opportunity to enter a new world. I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love way too many times to count!
What has been your go-to quarantine activity to pass the time? Making music! I’ve put out four albums in the last twelve months (Some Of These Days; Florence Price Piano Discoveries; The Bedtime Sessions; and Remember Me To Harlem)!! It’s been a whirlwind actually, which is good because I need to be busy.
Favorite dish to cook? My husband is the chef in our house, but I’m the baker. I love to fill the house with the smell of something sweet in the oven. And I do actually have the elusive perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.
What’s your favorite snack? Black licorice, and anything with cheese powder!
Favorite composers? Robert and Clara Schumann – their music speaks to the poet and the romantic in me. My recording For Love Of You was a beautiful opportunity to bring them together again, and to celebrate their intense creative partnership. It was also the only one of my albums that I’ve recorded here in California! We recorded it at Skywalker Sound in Marin County, with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. And maybe that brought me hometown good luck, because the album spent several weeks at #1 on the Billboard Chart! Duke Ellington – for all the obvious reasons, and because he said it best: “There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind.” He meant that music should exist without categories or definitions, and I live by that vision. And Florence Price, a composer whose work I’ve been performing for many years, whose musical voice expresses so much beauty, resilience, determination and authenticity.
Favorite non-classical musician? Nina Simone, always and forever. But you know, she was a classical pianist too!
Favorite quote? “Perhaps the mission of an artist is to interpret beauty to people – the beauty within themselves” – Langston Hughes
Favorite Bay Area places? Any sunny day in SF; Hog Island Oyster Farm in Tomales Bay; Chinatown markets; Hopscotch diner in Oakland; Wasteland on Haight Street for vintage clothing; the Merry Go Round in Tilden Park; anywhere I can smell eucalyptus trees, and anywhere I can see seals!
What do you see as the future for radio? The beauty of radio is the breadth and depth of the community it can build. Radio can catch you with a moment of music that you hear passing by, and make you stop to listen. It can change your day and change your life. The relationships we have with the voices and music we hear on the air are profound and meaningful, and they can be an incredible source of comfort and connection. I see the flow between the airwaves and the digital space as a kind of circular perpetual motion. We can create new dimensions around the music, start conversations, share stories and ideas, get to know each other in a multi-layered way. I’m so excited to take on the role of Resident Artist for KDFC and KUSC, to be part of defining a new era in making classical music and the arts a vital part of peoples’ lives all over California.
How do you spend your free time: I stay pretty busy so on my one day off, I enjoy cooking and watching cooking shows. I’ve been addicted to Jacques Pepin ever since he was introduced to us by Julia Child. Also, I recently fostered a dog for a week and ended up saying “yes”. My Jack Russell/Rat Terrier mix goes by the name of “Gumbo”. I’m doing a lot more walking in parks and playing catch with Gumbo these days as well.
What do you feel most proud of: I’m extremely proud of my Hawaiian background and take part in as many Polynesian activities as I can. The Aloha Festival is always a favorite.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why: I would like to one day visit all of the Polynesian islands. What are there, 1,000 or so? I have a great appreciation for the navigation skills it took my ancestors to travel such a vast ocean and I would like to experience all of the different cultures first hand.
Favorite Vacation: My favorite vacation thus far has been the Netherlands; Amsterdam, Utrecht and the Hague so far. I don’t think I met a single Dutch person that didn’t speak at least 4 different languages. The Dutch seem to have a lovely way of living and getting along with both the old and the new. An intelligent, friendly and tolerant country full of history and art.
Favorite Meal: Anything my mother cooks for me when I visit her <3
Hometown and/or other places lived: Formative years just north of NYC in Hawthorne. Wild and crazy years just west of Woodstock in a town of 300 called Oliverea.
Favorite Quote: Yeats’ The Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.”
Favorite Vacation: Japan or Fiji
Passion for: SCUBA (former instructor)
Best thing about living in the Southern California: Bird of Paradise plants. They’re everywhere! Like weeds!
Hometown and/or other places lived: Born in Washington, DC, a great city that everyone loves to hate. Also lived in Baltimore and New York City.
Family: Married for over 30 years to my best friend; surviving the teenage years, although our awesome daughter does make it easier; various cocker spaniels and a very loopy cat.
Favorite Sport: Baseball is the only sport truly given to us by the gods, and I love raising my daughter to be a bi-coastal fan. Go Giants! Go BoSox!
What do you feel most proud of: My favorite thing about this job is getting phone calls or email from listeners (especially young people) who tell me, “I never thought I’d enjoy classical music, but now I listen to your station all the time.” That’s what it’s all about.
What’s something that no one would guess about you: I actually do remember the 60s.
Hometown and/or other places lived: I’m a New Yorker with California rising. A city girl with a country heart.
Most unusual prior job: Wardrobe stylist for television commercials
If you won the lottery, what would you do: Dust off my guitar, take voice lessons, write a song a week for a year, and hit the road as a folk musician
What’s something you’ve always wanted to try: Learning lots of languages.
Best thing about living in the California: Music, food…..and hiking. So many miles to cover!
Favorite Meal: I’m partial to Dim Sum.
Favorite Quote: “You know, this is…excuse me…a damn fine cup of coffee” – Agent Dale Cooper
Favorite Vacation: Kauai (South Shore)
Passion for: Kauai (South Shore)
Most unusual prior job: This profession is unusual enough.