Radford CVPA alumnus brings Mountain Stage to campus

Adam Harris, Executive Producer of Mountain Stage
Adam Harris, Executive Producer of Mountain Stage


On Sunday April 8, 2018 Radford University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts will host a live performance of Mountain Stage with Larry Groce at the Bondurant Auditorium in Preston Hall. Central to the development of this event is Radford University alumnus Adam Harris, who completed his Music Business degree in 2005. While preparations for the event are heavily underway, Harris took a few minutes of his time for a short Q&A session about his life and career as a professional in the music business industry.


Q: What is your role with Mountain Stage?

A: Executive Producer – Mountain Stage. My primary responsibility is to finalize our show schedule and work in tandem with our host and artistic director Larry Groce to program each episode. We work with NPR regularly, post content to our various web platforms, including the podcast, NPR Music page, and our video hub VuHaus.com


Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: The most rewarding part of my job is introducing artists to new fans through our show. Every Mountain Stage we hear from audience members that came to a show to see one guest in particular, but they always walk away as a fan of a new discovery.


Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

A: We do 26 shows every year, with four to five guests on each show. That means about 120 artists a year, which is 120 contracts, 120 rooming lists, 120 stage-plots, 120 checks, 120 rooming lists, etc. When there are this many details, anything can go wrong, or be changed. Being able to think quickly and respond accordingly can be a challenge.


Q: Tell us about your career path. How did you end up working with Mountain Stage?

A: Internships were included in the curriculum for our music business program, culminating with a 460 hour internship as the final requirement. I completed my internship with Mountain Stage while doing odd freelance writing jobs on the side. I came on as a part-time assistant producer in October of 2005. My predecessor Andy Ridenour was a founder of the show and the executive producer since 1983. I took on that role when he retired in August 2012. So, remarkably, this is the only job I’ve had since I graduated.


Q: How did Radford CVPA prepare you for working in the “real” world?

A: I had some really great professors and mentors at RU. I learned life lessons from them, not just musical lessons. Studying an instrument while taking classes, writing for the school paper and programming my radio shifts made it essential to hone my time management skills. When my to-do list gets daunting, I’m always reminded of a book we read called “Eat That Frog,” which helped me learn to prioritize and focus on tasks in order of importance.


Q: What advice would you give to current Radford students taking the same major that you completed?

A: My advice in the music industry or any industry is to diversify your skill sets. Being good at one thing is rarely enough to get you by in the world today. You must be multi-faceted and multi-talented, and be ready to handle a variety of tasks, even if it may not be your “specialty.” I have wrapped cables, learned to wire a PA, edit audio, and set up a room block with a hotel.  I can script radio promos, I write for the web and I compose news releases. That’s not just one class at work there- that’s a lot of classes and multiple disciplinaries. Time is valuable, so managing your own time is important, and knowing when you need help can be equally so.

Work is rarely glamorous, and you have to enjoy it because public acknowledgement is a rarity. The best organizations are run by people who are interested in results, not just taking credit. You’ll often find the people who do the most receive the least recognition.


Q: What is it like returning to your alma mater as a business professional staging a complex, live music show at the university?

A: I’m excited to come back to Radford as a professional. WVRU is where I learned what public radio is, and where I really developed my love for the industry. I hope the day will be just like every other show day, just in a different city and a new venue! I like to say our show is exactly the same except completely different each time. It’s the same format, our same crew and band members are always there, but the venue and the guest-artists change frequently and so do all of the personalities. It keeps it interesting. I’m excited to expose folks in Radford to the great artists we have lined up as well.

Feb 27, 2018
Jason Hutchens, Ed.D.