Joel Najman

Host, My Place

Joel has been a part of Vermont's radio scene since 1964. He began his career at WIPS in Ticonderoga, New York. In 1965, he moved to WFAD in Middlebury, Vermont, where he attended Middlebury College. Over the years, Joel worked at radio stations WJOY, WQCR, WDOT, WDEV and WVAA where he served at various times as Morning Announcer, Program Director and News Director.

None of his radio gigs allowed him to express his love for 50s and 60s rock 'n roll music - until VPR. Joel began his association with Vermont Public Radio in the early 1980s, and since 1982 has been the host and producer of VPR's weekly My Place program. Self-taught, he weaves musicology, anthropology, sociology and even psychology among the music, creating a snapshot of life at that time.

Joel was inducted into the Vermont Association Of Broadcasters Hall Of Fame in 2004.


Ways to Connect

Courtesy, Joel Najman

Over the years, many individual recording artists have professionally used just a single name. In modern times, Prince, Beyonce and Adele come quickly to mind.

This week on My Place with Joel Najman, we take a look back in time for the earliest examples of "mononymous" recording artists - those who have been best known by just a single name. Among the artists featured are Annette, Fabian and, of course, Cher.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

It was not unusual for an occasional hit record in the United States to have been recorded in a language other than English.  This week, My Place host Joel Najman features a collection of vintage popular songs recorded entirely or partially in French. Among the selections featured is 'Dominique' from 1963, the international hit recording by performed by Souer Sourire, whom Americans came to know as The Singing Nun.

My Place: That's Amore

Apr 29, 2016
Courtesy, Joel Najman

This week on My Place, host Joel Najman explores an hour of 1950's and 60's hit songs in America that were sung partially or entirely in Italian.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

This week, host Joel Najman presents an hour of rarely heard stereo versions of original rock-and-roll hits of more than a half-century ago.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

This week, My Place looks at fathers and sons who have recorded pop music hits a generation apart. Prominently featured are the Burnette brothers and sons and the Nelsons - Ozzie, Ricky and his twin sons, Gunnar and Matt. The Nelson clan own the unique distinction of having recorded #1 hit singles over three generations.

My Place: Lee Hazlewood

Mar 18, 2016
Courtesy, Joel Najman

This week, My Place focuses on the early career of singer, songwriter and record producer Lee Hazlewood, who some musicologists refer to as, 'The Psychedelic Cowboy.'

My Place: Artie Resnick

Mar 11, 2016
Courtesy, Joel Najman

This week on My Place, host Joel Najman focuses on the early career of songwriter, record producer and musician Artie Resnick. Working in New York City's legendary Brill Building, Resnick wrote some of the most enduring hits of the rock era's first full golden decade, including "Under The Boardwalk" by the Drifters and "Good Lovin'" by the Young Rascals.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

This week on My Place, a musical profile of pop music arranger, composer, and orchestrator Artie Butler.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

In a career that today extends some 60 years, American popular music lyricist Norman Gimbel has written songs that have appeared on Broadway, in motion pictures, in television series, and he has won several Oscars and Grammys in the process.

My Place: Artie Kaplan

Feb 17, 2016
Courtesy, Joel Najman

From 1960 and beyond, saxophonist extraordinaire Artie Kaplan played on the studio recordings of over 150 nationally charted pop music hit records, including the dance favorite "The Locomotion" by Little Eva.

Group harmony doo-wop hits of the 1950s and pre-Beatles 1960s most often dealt with one aspect or another of young love.  This week, My Place relates a complete love story brought to life by nineteen carefully selected doo-wop recordings of that era. Memorable recordings by the Teenchords, the Drifters and the Monotones are among the selections featured

The name Ron Dante is hardly a household name, but he’s been heard thousands of times on the radio as the anonymous lead voice on several of the biggest hit records of the 1970s and as the singing voice on countless commercial jingles. Ron Dante also served as the studio producer of several of the most famous hit-making singers of the 1970s and beyond and as the producer of several Tony award-winning plays on Broadway. This week My Place traces the remarkable musical career of Ron Dante with a healthy sampling of both his well-known and lesser known achievements.

Many of the artists who propelled the popular folk music revival of the early 1960s by mid-decade had traded their acoustic guitars for amplified instruments and created a new genre of pop music that DJs labeled "Folk Rock."  This week, My Place program explores the family tree of several of the more prominent 1960s folk rockers, illustrated with memorable recordings by the Rooftop Singers, the Mamas & Papas, the Byrds and others.

Courtesy, Joel Najman

Collaborating with a number of highly talented lyricists over the past half-century, particularly Hal David, Burt Bacharach has generated hundreds of nationally charted hit songs, including dozens of top-ten and number-one smash hits. This week on My Place, host Joel Najman's spotlights several of the female recording artists who have taken Bacharach's compositions to the upper rungs of the national popularity charts. Najman will feature memorable recordings by Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield and Jackie DeShannon and more.


A street tough young man from Brooklyn discovered back in the 1950s that he had a talent for composing song lyrics. Over the next 50 years, tunesmith Paul Vance wrote over 320 songs that were recorded, many by the top hit-making singers of the day.  This week, My Place presents the biggest hits of songwriter and record producer Paul Vance, including his signature song “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini.”

As a studio musician, multi-instrumentalist Larry Knechtel was a member of Los Angeles' elite Wrecking Crew and played on dozens of major hit recordings coming from the West Coast all throughout the the 1960s.  During the 1970s, Larry Knechtel was also a member of the soft-rock supergroup Bread. This week My Place spotlights Larry Knechtel and his five decades as one of popular music's most accomplished musicians. 

Entertainers frequently use professional or stage names that are different than their given birth names and the golden age rock and roll artists are no exception. This week My Place reveals the original given  names of famous rock and roll stars of the 1950s and 1960s. Among the recordings featured are hit singles by singers whose real names are Charles Westover and Philip Blondheim.

Since 1984, the Happy Together Tour has brought together premier recording acts of the 1960s in live performances of some of the most cherished and enduring hit singles of the rock & roll era's first full golden decade. The 2015 Happy Together Tour arrives at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds in Essex Junction on Saturday September 5 at 7 p.m.

On rare occasions During the 1960s American rock and roll recording artists recorded versions of their English language hit songs in foreign languages for distribution to countries overseas. These re-recordings were most often done phonetically, oftentimes with amusing results. This week , My Place takes a musical journey to sunny Italy with a collection of familiar American hit singles performed by the original artists in Italian. Gene Pitney, Diana Ross and Lesley Gore are among the artists who also recorded in Italian. 

Though few outside the industry recognize his name, from the 1960s and beyond Jerry Ragovoy  was a major figure within the contemporary music business. He wrote, arranged and produced some of the most enduring soul-style popular recordings of that period.  This week , My Place tells the the fascinating story of of Jerry Ragovoy through a sampling of the marvelous music he helped create. Memorable recordings by Garnet Mimms, Howard Tate and Janis Joplin are among the selections featured.