Honoring Tim Banker on His Incredible FTT Career

Photo by Caitlin Cunningham Photography., ASC

As one of the first members of From the Top’s creative team, Timothy Banker has been instrumental to From the Top’s success as a nationally syndicated radio program for 22 years. We salute him on an incredible two decades with From the Top as he moves on to pursue new opportunities.

From the Top: You have been an important member of From the Top’s production team! Can you describe your role at FTT?

Tim: Most recently, as Director of Content and Production, I managed the production team and its various contract employees (such as our host, co-hosts, sound crew and editors); I determined, along with our co-hosts, the content of the talk portions of our NPR show and wrote those scripts, interview guides and promotions; I edited the talk portions of our NPR program, recorded video at all of our in-person recording sessions, cultivated institutional partnerships in order to book and plan our in-person recording sessions, and more!

FTT: Prior to 2020, From the Top traveled to different locations for each recording. Which locations were favorites?

Ibanda Ruhumbika leading a From the Top education program in Hawaii.

Tim: I’ve loved so many. Of course, it’s hard not to love the wild spaces of the Big Island, Hawaii where we recorded two programs, but I also loved being surprised by smaller places… like the town of Vermillion, South Dakota where they have an incredible musical instrument museum, or Birmingham, Alabama which has crazy good food, or El Paso Texas which has one of the most beautiful theaters in America (The Plaza). Gotta give a shout-out to Carnegie Hall because…yuh know …and then I’ve loved our repeat visits to the Interlochen Arts Academy – I just love the students there and the culture of that place.  We’ve worked with so many wonderful students from Interlochen.

FTT: From the Top showcases extraordinary performances on each show, so it is impossible to have a favorite! Can you please share one of your most memorable?

Tim: I am moved emotionally by our young musiciansss them Every. Single. NPR show experience.  Not an exaggeration. But…. hmmm.  Let’s see … Musically, in our very first year, I remember having my breath taken away by the teenage Capriccio String Quartet performing the first movement of the Ravel Quartet in F Major.  I was sitting in the recording booth and when they concluded that performance no one could speak until our head engineer said, “Well that was some serious music making, wasn’t it.”  I had a habit of lying down on the floor backstage and I remember doing that at the Cincinnati Music Hall and hearing the crowd roar so loud, it rumbled my body.  

Show 413

Recently Peter Dugan and co-host Alex Laing reinvented a movement of Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 1 and hearing their collaboration absolutely blew my mind – the piece was so instantly alive, soulful and original. I couldn’t believe my ears or eyes.  And as far as performers go, oh gosh…  it’s so hard. Well, I guess I’ll mention William Jae, a young composer who spoke so bravely about proving to his parents that his pursuit of music could be done and was worthwhile and calming their fears about his future, through hard work and achievement – I’ll never forget that. But really there have been so many, many moments – just this last show, for instance, hearing 14 year-old violinist, Alba Gilabert-Reid discussing how she facilitates discussions on race with her peers was hugely inspirational  — it’s been such an incredible endless journey of young people bravely sharing their music, who they are and breaking barriers both personal and political in so many ways, there have been so many laughs and sacred moments.  

FTT: What do you do to relax and find joy in your free time?

Tim: I like to tussle with my dogs, do lawn mower therapy, go for a run in the woods even though it’s bad for my ankle and laugh with my wife over a massive salad.

Tim moves on from From the Top to pursue new opportunities at the end of September. We salute him for his incredible contributions to our organization. While Tim can never be replaced, he has helped ensure the future success of FTT by helping us find two incredible people to take on his responsibilities.

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