Keenan Harmon

Q&A: Get to Know Keenan Harmon, WDAV’s Newest Announcer

This Sunday, November 20, at 10 p.m., professional trumpeter Keenan Harmon will make his announcing debut on WDAV. Well known to classical and jazz audiences in the Carolinas, Harmon performs in a wide range of areas including theatre shows, recitals, and chamber music and jazz concerts. His discipline also includes composition, having written many works for ensembles, and brass pedagogy, working with young musicians to gain their footing in the business.

WDAV first met Keenan through our NoteWorthy concert series when he collaborated with gospel artist Karen Poole in June 2021. Fast forward 18 months and he’s ready to add “radio announcer” to his already impressive resume. We caught up with Keenan this week for a fun Q&A ahead of his debut. 

You’ve been an active musician for many years. When did you fall in love with the trumpet, and what drew you to that particular instrument?  

I always loved the sound of the trumpet and also the sound of brass. I love that trumpet can fit into many different styles. It can be commanding as much as it can be intimate. It can be exciting as well as mellow and sultry. Love the versatility.

How about a list of your top three favorite works to play for an audience? 

Top three? Such a challenge. I would say the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, the Telemann Concerto (or anything on piccolo trumpet), and currently I am doing a deep dive on the Sonata for Trumpet by Eric Ewazen. I will be performing it at an upcoming recital in a few months and am trying to get a fresh take on it. Ask me tomorrow and it will change!

What has been the most challenging aspect of learning to host a radio show?

Getting used to the sound of your own voice. How often do folks ask, “do I really sound like that?” And if you worry about sounding funny or the way you may say things in English, add the widespread and diverse pool of conductors, performers, and composers from all over the world you need to pronounce. You hope to make it sound natural and effortless.  It certainly keeps you on your toes!

Have there been any surprises along the way? 

The amount of leg work announcers do for content. WDAV has a friendly and conversational style, and that comes from the personality of the announcers. It’s easy not to think about that as a listener, but trying to emulate what the station has done so effortlessly for such a long time is a big challenge. But a fun one too!

Give us the name of a composer who we should all give more attention to? Why?   

Dmitri Shostakovich. He composed in nearly every medium in his time, from symphonies to opera to film music. He lived through Stalinist Russia and long after until his death in 1975, and his music captures a crazy time in human history while also being very timeless.

What should listeners expect to hear when they tune in?

Friendly, conversational, and passionately knowledgeable (hopefully)!

Favorite Charlotte area restaurant, past or present? 

Kabob-Je all the way!  Best Eastern Mediterranean in the area.

Do you have a desert island recording to share with our readers?  

That’s tough. Really tough, but I would have to say Miles Davis and Gil Evans’ Miles Ahead album. Gil’s arrangements for Miles shook my world as a child. I didn’t know music could sound like that, and Miles’ playing is so unique within that texture. One of the many reasons I fell in love with music and play trumpet today.

When he’s not performing around the Carolinas or grabbing a bite at Kabob-Je, you can catch Keenan hosting WDAV’s Sunday Night Music program each week from 10 p.m. – 12 a.m.

Pictured: Keenan Harmon in WDAV studio. Photo by Will Keible.