[JPL] response to Jae Sinnett's post of 03-31-06

Bob Rogers rwsfin at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 1 14:52:58 EST 2006

“…a show that has been created for the listeners to expect simply – the 

………     Jae Sinnett, post to JPL, 3-31-06

                Thanks to Jae for a posting that certainly resonates with 
me.  I thought the set list example especially well-chosen: 
Hubbard-Lark-Mehldau-Christian Scott-Dafnis Prieto. To me, the invocation of 
surprise as a prime programming directive speaks to many of the issues he 
mentions earlier, such as radio overvaluing marquee names, programming more 
by marketing metrics than by ear.

	If I have a stack of music to listen to for airplay consideration, and that 
stack includes Wynton Marsalis and Christian Scott, I’ll make time for Scott 
first because good music from someone I don’t know anything about is more 
interesting to me than the fact that Wynton has recorded another cd.  
Understand I’m using these names only because they were the ones in Jae’s 
example.  Marsalis and Scott could just as easily be James Carter and 
Rudresh Mahanthappa. The degree of their “marquee-nameness” is the point.

	I can only program jazz in a very personal way.  Someone else (or everyone 
else, for that matter) might listen to Wynton first.  But personally I’d 
rather present someone new to me.  And whatever I want to play after the 
current cut, is what’s going to happen.  It’s that simple and only depends 
on what music I thought to assemble before me.  Because I don’t like to 
preplan my programming, I have to preassemble quite a large body of music 
from which to choose. [note: programming sponteneity is much more 
time-consuming that mere program preparation]

My decisions are pretty much governed by the passions and emotions I am 
experiencing while that current cut is playing, which in turn may well be 
governed by what I had for breakfast this morning.  It’s pretty much beyond 
my prediction or understanding. The point is, it’s personal, spontaneous, 
very subjective radio. That’s the thing I always listen for and too seldom 
experience. Maybe that’s just me. But when I’m listening to the radio, that 
too is just me. I think radio (and jazz), properly understood and practiced, 
need to be highly personal.

If I am listening to the radio, it’s going to be jazz most of the time. And 
if that jazz programming isn’t interesting enough to me, I’ll turn it off, 
which happens a lot.  If I hear too many marquee names, I figure the person 
on the air either is not making their own decisions or, from my perspective, 
they don’t seem to know their ass from a hole in the ground or it sounds 
like some marketing plan in action.  Why would I listen to some 
marketing/celebrity-addled airhead? [CLICK!]

Moral:  If you can surprise me maybe I’ll keep listening.  But understand 
that if you don’t surprise me you will bore me.  And I can get music from 
any number of sources.  I don’t have to tolerate boredom in music.  If I 
wanted boredom I’d be listening to some “rock” station on commercial radio.

Best regards,

Bob Rogers
2816 Barmettler Street
Raleigh, NC 27607
WSHA - www.wshafm.org
email: rwsfin at hotmail.com
phone: (919) 413-4126

>From: Jae Sinnett <jaejazz at yahoo.com>
>Reply-To: Jazz Programmers Mailing List <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
>To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
>Subject: [JPL] Elevating the Instrumental Artist
>Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2006 11:09:38 -0800 (PST)
>Permit me to share some thoughts on an issue that I think has major 
>significance in keeping jazz vital and moving forward. I've always thought 
>about this but with the deluge of product radio receives I've thought about 
>it more. Over the past several years a major concern with me in the 
>industry is the apparent inability to create new instrumental marquee 
>names. Some might identify them as "jazz stars." I've talked about this 
>many times but it's getting worse. Now one can argue how much 
>responsibility and or potential radio has in helping with this issue but 
>certainly it can do more and I'll discuss this in more detail in a moment. 
>Firstly, the reasons as to why I think this is happening.......
>   Print and electronic media in all genres of music simply focus too much 
>on established artists. There is a presumption I believe that if they don't 
>folk won't read, listen or watch. I don't necessarily agree with this 
>thinking. Peeps - from an historical perspective.......
>   Think about all the jazz marquee names that were created in the 40's and 
>50's. It's astonishing to think how many came out of those decades. Now 
>look at the 60's and 70's. Several but not as many as the preceding two and 
>then the more happy jazz artists started popping up like Spyro and the 
>Rippingtons. Now look at the 80's and 90's and you would have a difficult 
>time coming up with enough true instrumental marquee names to fill two 
>hands. Wynton, Branford and Joshua are a few of the few that come to mind 
>in these two decades but here's an interesting observation...... Wynton is 
>coming here April 30th and apparently will sell out 2200 seats at Chrysler 
>Hall. As of today he's at 1600. Branford is coming April 8th and is now at 
>about 600 in a 1700 seat venue so we can debate what actually constitutes a 
>"jazz star" based on drawing capacity. It's also different from market to 
>market but when you really think about it the jazz artists that are selling 
>in the upper hundreds or  thousands have been established mostly before 
>   Another reason this is happening is that on the major jazz festivals 
>over the years the overwhelming number of artists relentlessly featured 
>were marquee names that were part of a revolving door on these festivals 
>while a generation was coming up underneath them with little or no 
>exposure. Now all those major names are gone and you have this generation 
>and now almost another that folk not directly connected to the industry 
>know little or nothing about. This "tilting" started in the early 80's I 
>believe and has only gotten worse since.
>    Now radio........From my perspective folk tune in because of the 
>concept of the format. The serious jazz fan will tune in because....it's 
>jazz. The not so might because they are waiting to hear their favorite 
>artist or someone that "sounds" like them. So yes, while jazz fans have 
>their favorite artists in this regard, as do programmers, it's not so much 
>about who you play but the concept of what's being presented. So when I see 
>a programmer saying that the bigger names with the bigger labels will get 
>the priority it's really not necessary because for the most part if the 
>audience member doesn't have the recording and from a purely musical 
>position, they're not going to be able to tell you who's playing anyway. So 
>we as programmers need to look at this more closely and perhaps from 
>different perspectives.
>   For example, if I play Freddie Hubbard blowing lets say....."You're My 
>Everything" then Bob Lark doing "Bye Bye Blackbird" then closing the set 
>with Brad Mehldau playing "Monk's Dream," that's within a certain musical 
>concept.  Now what if I wanted to play Christian Scott doing "Say It" next 
>and Dafnis Prieto? This is outside of that previous musical concept but not 
>necessarily outside of a concept of a show that has been created for the 
>listeners to expect simply - the unexpected. Consequently, your listeners 
>are tuning in to not expect "Stella" all night but in fact the core 
>audience of this type of jazz show tunes in to hear what's new. If we act 
>like slaves to the familiar the music moves no-where and the belief that a 
>show can't succeed if not presented this way is simply not true because 
>I've proven it can work. When you have a jazz program that airs Sunday 
>afternoons and weeknights from 9pm-1am raise more money than Morning 
>Edition and ATC (not combined - Jazz  $51,000 - ATC - $48,000 - ME - 
>$43,000) during our fall 2005 two week fundraiser......are you going to 
>tell me it can't work?
>   One simple but extraordinarily helpful way radio can help more, is the 
>interview. That's the deal breaker in my opinion with the artists folks. 
>You can play "new" artists until you're blue in the face but I will 
>guarentee you most won't get it. It's the story behind the artists that 
>will get the listeners attention and I truly believe in radio we must make 
>more of an effort to bring in new or lesser known artists to the 
>interviewing table - by phone or live and not simply wait until they are 
>appearing in your area. This is the best way radio can help these artists.
>   What has really gotten me thinking this way as programmer is I look at 
>the success I've had from the interviews I've done in reference to my 
>recording(s). Every market where I've done interviews I've seen major 
>increases in sales and their listeners emailing me asking when we would be 
>performing in their areas. In saying all of this I will add that the 
>artists have to be capable of intelligent and insightful engagement to make 
>the interview interesting and thought provoking. I think most know the 
>value of interviews but too often we wait for the "big" name or again, when 
>the artists come to town. I personally think this is a major area in which 
>radio can contribute more to the development to the lesser known. I would 
>bet if we re-focused on this area of our programming we can certainly help 
>in creating more "jazz stars."
>   Jae Sinnett

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