The Spark

Friday 6:20pm

The Spark is WMRA's own creative look at --well-- creativity. We dig into whatever people are passionate about in the WMRA region: sculpture, model railroading, costume-making, poetry, whatever.

Please note that while we no longer produce The Spark as a full-length program (due to Martha Woodroof's retirement), her interviews continue to appear within our Friday broadcast of All Things Considered.

We want to hear from those who are doing artsy or interesting or wonderful or obsessive things.  We also recognize that lots of creatives are a tad shy and might not ever speak up for themselves. 

You can put something on our radar about yourself or can tell us about someone you know of who might be interesting by sending an e-mail to the show host, Martha Woodroof:
(To launch an email to Martha automatically click here. )

Scroll down to hear past segments.

Consider this a community-wide celebration of the many people among us who invest time, energy and discipline into pushing against life's boundaries.

Listen to a typical 2012 version of the show's end credits (including Martha asking to hear from those who know about creative goings-on) : here (60 seconds).

2013 Spark intern Julia Skinner has been tasked with blogging about potentially Spark-worthy peers, and you can find the link to that blog on this page.

Tomato Guru

Aug 8, 2014

How does one pick a bushel of tomatoes without kneeling? It depends on how they're strung up. Though he'd humbly disagree, many Harrisonburg folks think that Singers Glen farmer, Marlin Burkholder, knows all there is to know about growing tomatoes. 

Bob Driver!

Aug 1, 2014

Homegrown bluesman, regional acoustic guru, musician-booster  and long-ago owner of the legendary Little Grill:  Bob Driver. Bob chats with WMRA's Martha Woodroof about some 'a this and some 'a that.

A chat with self-described "Author, Poet, Spoken Word Artist, Motivational Speaker, & Artist" Angela Carter.

We meet Luke Frazier, Fairfax Symphony Orchestra's New Principal Pops Conductor, who premiers 2 new programs July 25th and 26th at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival in Orkney Springs. One  explores the Civil War through period music, journal entries, speeches, and historical accounts.

Charles Marsh, the acclaimed author of Reclaiming Bonhoeffer discusses his new book, Strange Glory: A life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which the Wall Street Journal calls “truly beautiful and heartbreaking.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and  anti-Nazi dissident who was executed by the Nazis just weeks before the end of the war in Europe.

This time on the Spark, Martha speaks with audio book producer Paul Heitsch.

In 1978, she was in the vanguard of female pastors (being only the second-ever ordained Presbyterian woman in her state). Ann Held remembers the long and winding road she took to first become a pastor, back in the 1970's when there weren’t many women in the field. 

HOOs Cryin' Now?

May 30, 2014

WMRA's Martha Woodroof meets longtime JMU Women's Basketball coach and vanquisher of Wahoos, Kenny Brooks.

Marvin VanRoane Jr

May 23, 2014

He sold pizzas. He sold drugs. He did time. Now Marvin VanRoane Junior hopes to turn his life around with art. WMRA's Martha Woodroof chats with the newly self-made artist behind the "Urban Art Exhibition" posters which have been popping up in parts of Virginia. 

Silent film wasn't silent: a theater keyboardist would play along to the on-screen action. Ben Model is a professional film accompanist for MoMA and numerous historic theaters. WMRA's Martha Woodroof meets Ben and learns about the process of making DVD music for long-lost silents which are now being digitized and seen for the first time in almost a century.

Updating Organs

May 9, 2014

Dan Smith of Crimora services pipe organs and also can hybridize them with 21st Century digital technology.

Miller's Music

May 2, 2014
AIM Studios of Virginia / Allen Moore

Dawn Miller grew up listening to her parents play music. So, naturally,  she started making music as soon as she was old enough to carry a tune.

Inspired by three unpublished murder mysteries and his own life along the Louisiana/Arkansas  border, writer Steve Weddle's book Country Hardball is in bookstores. 

Yoga Pink

Apr 18, 2014

Susan Nelson’s story of breast cancer survival and Kundalini yoga. 

He's Puzzling

Apr 4, 2014

WMRA's Martha Woodroof chats with Staunton's Matt Gaffney, whose puzzles have been published by the New York Times, Newsday, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, GAMES Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and others. 

Mary Ann Alger

Mar 21, 2014

Before Mary Ann Alger, wife of JMU President John Alger,  became a university’s  First Lady, she had a high-flying career in international banking and finance.

After a stream of rejections, Paul Bogard's book about light pollution, The End of Night, finally got published and got lots of praise. 

A beautiful and disturbing new children's book set in the year 2031 by visual artist Kate Samworth raises awareness of species extinction. 

Western Albemarle High school has a powerhouse robotics club for students who enjoy designing and fabricating machines that can do things. This club has spawned two teams (The Geeks Gods and the Loose Screws) that are set to compete in their third consecutive Virginia state robotics championship. 

John del Re doesn’t participate in shape note singing just to make music, he participates to engage in community.