The Vinyl Cafe is an hour-long radio variety show hosted by Stuart McLean and broadcast on CBC radio, BBC Radio 7 and on as many as 80 U.S. public radio stations. It airs on Sunday at noon EST and Tuesday at 11:00 pm EST on Radio One and Saturday at 9 am EST on Radio 2 and is also available as a podcast, although the podcasts are usually just McLean's stories for studio episodes because of copyright restrictions on recorded music, however the concert episodes are released in their entirety.
In 2011, Apple announced their "Best of the Year" awards and The Vinyl Cafe podcast was chosen as the best audio podcast of the year.
The show is independently produced by McLean and sold to the CBC. Each season has approximately 22 new episodes. Half of those are recorded in the studio and the other half are done with live audiences in theatres across Canada, with one 2011 show recorded in Cleveland, Ohio. One episode was recorded onboard VIA Rail's transcontinental passenger train The Canadian from the dome observation car, complete with an audience of passengers and featured a rail travel theme. The musical guest was singer songwriter Reid Jamieson.