Ellen Oplinger

Event Coordinator
WXPN and World Cafe

Ellen Oplinger

What do you do at World Cafe?
“I produce the Free at Noon concerts which happen every Friday … I work with the bands and publicists, managers, and labels to sort out the logistics of the recording sessions [for the World Cafe show] and the tech side of it, as well—just to make sure everything goes smoothly at the studio.” 

What kind of work do you do in advance of an artist coming to the studio?
“We have a specific format for the World Cafe show—there are four songs that they record in studio. … Every band has a different set-up. Also some bands are on a promotional tour, so they may or may not be bringing all their gear with them.

“I do all the back-end work to make sure everything goes smoothly, but day of, I greet them, I’m the face of the program for them when they arrive, making sure they have parking, hospitality. I make sure everything goes smoothly and to make sure they’ve had an enjoyable experience. Ninety percent of the time, bands are just super cool and really friendly.”

Has working at World Cafe given you a different perspective on seeing live music?
“It’s different than just seeing a show for sure. You get to see the behind-the-scenes of what their life is on the road.”

Are there any artists who you’ve been especially excited to meet?
“It was nerve wracking to meet Willie Nelson. We also just had Brian Wilson in for our Non-Commvention. There’s a lot of huge names—you have to keep your composure.”

What’s the best part of your job?
“The joy for me after the planning is done, when someone comes in who I’m a true fan of. … It’s definitely a fun job. I come home at night, I watch ‘Jimmy Fallon,’ and the next day [the artist is] in the studio.”

—H.D.