When you wake up on Monday, August 6 and turn on WFMT, you’ll hear a new, yet familiar, voice as the host of the Morning Program. Longtime weekend morning host Dennis Moore will take over from Carl Grapentine, who hosted the program for 22 years. Maggie Clennon Reberg, who joined WFMT in 2015 as a part-time program host, will host weekend mornings and weekday evenings.
Moore was chosen to host the Morning Program because of his creative approach to curating music, his warm voice, and his knowledge of classical music. “Dennis is the ideal person to helm our Morning Program. I’m excited to see how he will develop the show,” said WFMT program director David Polk.
As a musician himself, Moore has played keyboard instruments since childhood. He performs regularly on the piano with his partner, violinist Sara Su Jones, throughout the United States and internationally. Some of Moore’s favorite composers to play at the piano are “Bach first and foremost, Chopin, and Schumann, but I also like to play a wide range of other kinds of music.” Moore played in a rock group in middle school and high school, and more recently, he played original R&B, funk, and groove music on electric organ with a Chicago jam band.
He began his career in radio at 15 at WDIZ in Orlando, Florida doing production work behind the scenes as well as announcing the news on the air. Later, he became a full time reporter and news anchor for Orlando’s WDBO. He also worked for WPRK, which at the time was Orlando area’s only radio station featuring classical music. When WMFE, now the National Public Radio member station in Orlando, started in 1980, Moore served as its first music director.
Dennis first came to WFMT as a staff announcer who worked alongside Norm Pellegrini, then program director, to curate the station’s music. Since then, he has hosted during every daypart on WFMT, produced specials, and served as the station’s program director. For WFMT, he has hosted nationally syndicated broadcasts of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and his voice has also been heard on other broadcasts including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Orchestra, Ravinia Festival, Chicago Sinfonietta, Music of the Baroque, and Aspen Music Festival.
As the new host of the Morning Program, Moore said, “I am honored and thrilled to bring new energy to a program that is so important to our listeners and to our station,” said Moore. “I’m looking forward to putting my own stamp on it, and I feel privileged to be a part of such a special time of day for the WFMT audience.” He said that “listeners can expect to enjoy a diverse mix of repertoire, including their favorites, that is perfect for the morning.”
Like Moore, Reberg’s love of music comes, in part, from her experiences on stage herself. As an actor and musician, she has performed with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Music Theatre Works, Chamber Opera Chicago, Transgressive Theatre-Opera, Remy Bumppo, and First Folio Theatre, as well as the 2014-15 National and Southeast Asia tours of the Broadway musical Sister Act.
The Detroit native said, “I began dancing at age four or five. I finished high school early and went to Marygrove College to study ballet under the direction of Iacob Lascu. This was at the tail end of the Balanchine era, when women’s bodies in ballet were still of a particular shape and size, and I realized I wasn’t suited for a career in ballet. I had been hired as a dancer for several productions at Michigan Opera Theater, but then I started singing and decided to audition for the chorus. I was hired in the chorus and spent about 10 years singing in both the chorus and comprimario roles.”
When Reberg moved to Chicago in 1993, she said, “It felt like kind of a homecoming because both of my parents are from the Chicago area,” she said. “As a music-loving Chicagoan and devoted listener, WFMT has been a huge part of my life for so many years.” She was first selected to become a part-time host after submitting an online application at wfmt.com/audition in response to an open call.
“Joining the WFMT family in 2015 was a dream come true, and now I am thoroughly delighted to have the opportunity to expand my relationship with my colleagues and fellow listeners,” said Reberg. “Music is the central driving force in my life and I consider our listeners like a big circle of friends, and I’m just like them. I have a job and a mortgage and a child, and music is my solace.”
Though Carl Grapentine’s last day as a regular host will be Friday, July 27, he will continue to work on special projects for WFMT, including a regular weekday morning feature, Carl’s Almanac, beginning September 3, and a podcast to be launched in early 2019.