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Radio confab draws singers to World Cafe, Penn

Station reps, hosted by 'XPN, are listening to more than 30 acts while they confer.

The name doesn't exactly trip off the tongue: The 8th Non-COMMvention gathering of Triple A radio stations hosted by WXPN-FM (88.5).

But what that not-really-a-word neologism means is that more than 300 representatives of about 50 radio stations - most non-commercial - are having a confab that runs through today at World Cafe Live and the Inn at Penn, says 'XPN general manager Roger LaMay.

The radio programmers, record label owners and music promoters seeking their favor are being serenaded by acts like the Hold Steady, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Ani DiFranco and Dr. John.

Meantime, station reps like 'XPN music director Dan Reed - the driving force who brought the conference to its new permanent annual home in Philadelphia - are wondering how their fund-raising will hold up in a faltering economy (so far, so good, says Reed). And they're strategizing about how to keep their older, affluent, Shawn Colvin-loving audience while playing younger bands like Santogold and My Morning Jacket.

Most of the more-than-30 acts playing for the over-30s who are schmoozing at Non-COMM - like Philadelphia songwriter Mutlu Onaral, whose Blue Note album

Livin' It

is due out this summer - are singing at registrants-only showcases, which are not open to the public. The biggest show of the weekend, however, is open to any and all ticket buyers.

It's tonight at the Electric Factory, with Austin, Texas' Alejandro Escovedo (whose forthcoming CD

Real Animal

is a rocking return to form), plus Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards, Jakob (son of Bob) Dylan, Yoav, and What Made Milwaukee Famous.

Triple A, for the uninitiated, is an imprecise acronym originally meant to stand for Adult Album Alternative, which now more accurately is referred to as Adult Alternative. 'XPN is one of the key standard bearers in the format, along with stations like KEXP in Seattle and KCRW in Los Angeles.

For labels like the L.A.-based Vanguard Records, coming to Non-COMM and getting their bands on 'XPN is essential.

"It's in every one of our marketing plans," said Art Phillips, head of promotions for Vanguard, whose roster includes the Watson Twins, and singer-songwriters Mindy Smith, Matt Nathanson and Shawn Mullins. "We gotta get in with David Dye on the [show]

World Cafe Live

," which is syndicated on 130 stations across the country.

"There are a lot of music lovers here," says Phillips. "It's the face behind the call. You have a cheesesteak and a beer with people. It's a good thing."