Michael Barone
Background information
Birth nameJohn Michael Barone
Born (1946-06-28) June 28, 1946 (age 77)[1]
Kingston, Pennsylvania
Occupation(s)Radio host
Instrument(s)Pipe organ
Years active1968–present

John Michael Barone (born June 28, 1946) is an American organist, radio host, and producer, specializing in the pipe organ. His weekly Pipedreams program is distributed by American Public Media. He was the classical music director at Minnesota Public Radio for 25 years and hosted broadcasts of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and MPR's The New Releases.[2][3]


Barone's interest in organ music began in his teens, at first listening to recordings, then playing at his hometown church in Kingston, Pennsylvania. He attended Oberlin College, worked at the student-run WOBC-FM radio station, and graduated from Oberlin Conservatory in 1968 with a degree in music history. He began his professional radio career as the music director of KSJR-FM located at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. The station evolved into Minnesota Public Radio, where he served as classical music director for 25 years.[4]

Beginning in 1970, he produced and hosted a weekly Sunday night broadcast of organ music, known as The Organ Program. In 1982, he created a 14-episode series of live performance recordings, derived in large part from concerts during the 1980 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists (AGO). This successful "pilot" program evolved into the weekly Pipedreams show, beginning in October 1983.[4]

He was an adviser and consultant to the pipe organ installation at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and has served as a program consultant to the organ series at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.[4] He has commissioned a cycle of preludes and fugues for organ from composer Henry Martin, which began to be published in 2008.[5]


In 1996 Barone received the biennial AGO President's Award for "outstanding contributions to the art of the organ".[6] In 1997 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Organ Historical Society,[7] which he would later serve as president.[1]

In 2001 the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers awarded Pipedreams the Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award for Excellence.[8] Barone received a 2002 citation for his longevity and service to classical music in public radio.[9] Also in 2002 he was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.[10]

The AGO commissioned Haig Mardirosian to create a monograph on Barone published in 2017, the first in an AGO series.[11]

On August 20, 2018, Barone was feted by colleagues on the 50th anniversary of his continuous employment at Minnesota Public Radio, and the 35th anniversary of the continuous weekly presence of Pipedreams in national distribution. These milestones were celebrated, in conjunction with the Twin Cities chapter of the AGO, with a special concert and reception at the Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, involving eight local organists, one guest player, and the largest mechanical-action pipe organ in the Upper Midwest.


  1. ^ a b "John Michael Barone". Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ. Archived from the original on 25 April 2015.
  2. ^ Webb, Charles (24 April 2016). "Michael Barone, host of Pipedreams". Profiles – Indiana Public Media. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  3. ^ "MPR people: Michael Barone". Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Whitney, Craig (17 October 2008). "Tuning In to the Organ, and Not Just in Church". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Henry Martin: Preludes and Fugues for Organ". Rutgers University. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  6. ^ "AGO Bestows Highest and Most Prestigious Awards at National Convention". 24 July 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Barone Honored by the American Guild of Organists". 10 July 1996. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  8. ^ "34th Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Award Recipients". 2001. Retrieved 19 April 2024.
  9. ^ "Barone Cited For Longevity". Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio. 2002. Archived from the original on 5 November 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ "Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Inductee: Michael Barone" (PDF). Retrieved 19 April 2024.
  11. ^ Mardirosian, Haig (December 2017). J. Michael Barone and Pipedreams: The Organ on Public Radio (PDF). American Guild of Organists Monograph Series No. 1. Retrieved 19 April 2024.