Mary Berg, host of KPFA’s ‘A Musical Offering’

Mary Berg
Mary Berg, who died on Nov. 28, 2014

On Jan. 31, Bay Area music-lovers will pay their respects to Mary Berg, whose Sunday morning reveries on Berkeley’s KPFA radio, the first public radio station in the United States, lulled generations of classical music fans into their final day of the weekend from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

“A Musical Offering” had a large and devoted audience who eagerly soaked up Berg’s passion for Bach and gentle, empathetic on-air voice. A devoted aficionado of early music, Berg scoured outlets all over the area for rare recordings to share with her early morning friends and never tired of exposing the Bay Area to her never-ending supply of choral and orchestral pieces from the lesser known corners of classical music. Her program was the antidote to the repetitive classical music highlight programs heard on commercial radio and her audience treasured it greatly.

Berg was an accomplished audio technician and worked in professional sound long before women commonly did so, in a long line of feminist pioneers associated with KPFA and the Pacifica Radio stations. Within the station, she was an ardent supporter of ever more democracy, the honoring of volunteer labor and the elevation of new young voices from the community.

In her private life, she described herself as a bookish only child with a vivid imagination when she was young, and she loved travel adventure, feminist fiction, spicy food, good red wine, and domestic animal companions of all types.

In her later years, Berg was a sought-after pet sitter for many local residents. Her long-time companion passed away some years ago after a sustained partnership.

Berg suffered a broken hip and femur in the fall of 2013 after being hit by a car, and never fully recovered mobility. She continued her weekly musical program at KPFA from a wheelchair into the spring of 2014 until she was forced to stop due to declining health. She passed away peacefully in her sleep on Nov. 28, 2014.

The celebration will be held on Jan. 31, 2015 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m at the Fellowship Hall of the Berkeley Federation for Unitarian Universalists 1924 Cedar St. (off Bonita) in North Berkeley. All friends, family and fans are welcome to attend.

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