[JPL] Linda's addition to discussion

Linda Yohn lyohn at emich.edu
Sun Apr 2 12:46:44 EDT 2006

Good morning all,

I finally have a little time to weigh in on the excellent airplay 
discussion taking place on the jazzproglist.  Yes, the discussion 
began with some very painful venting, but it has revealed positive 
contributions, thoughts and, we hope for all involved, a positive 
outcome--meaning an understanding of the parts we all play in jazz.

I have not had time to contribute until now, because I have been 
involved in fund drive preparation.  Sometimes I think preparing for a 
fund drive is harding than doing one!  But, our drive is rolling right 
now and we are right where we need to be.  We hope to have a positive 
report for you when the drive wraps up next Saturday afternoon.

The older I get, the more I know that balance is important in life.  
We must apply balance to our programming as well.  All new jazz will 
not work.  The listeners will not find that "foothold" that you move 
from for further exploration.  All classic jazz will not work.  
Listeners will will eventually be under-stimulated and bored.  
Listeners will leave you when they are bored.  All marquee artists 
will not work.  Listeners will percieve you as uninformed and leave 
you for an exploration of different approaches.  All unknown artists 
will not work.  Again, the listener does require some familiarity 
mixed in with the new voices.  And, all national artists will not 
work.  To truly succeed with your local listener, a diligent 
programmer will give his or home-town heroines and heroes the highest 
priority when reviewing new material.  

I don't know about your locale, but in the Detroit area we have great 
jazz musicians.  They did not all go to New York or Los Angeles.  Many 
chose to remain here when Motown moved to L.A.  Many chose to stay 
here because Detroit is essentially an "Up South" town and is very 
strong on the family.  From the 1940s through late 1960s, Detroit was 
very, very strong financially.  (As an aside--then there's 2006--see 
why we're concerned about this fund drive?)  

In the '40s Detroit built an incredible music studies program in the 
public schools which included jazz instruction.  They kept up that 
high level of in-school music instrution through the early '80s.  
Detroit jazz musicians Marcus Belgrave, Wendell Harrison and Harold 
McKinney kept the jazz going after school with their lessons and jazz 
development workshops.  The national jazz community reaps the benefit 
of Detroit's great publis schools today with artists such as James 
Carter, Regina Carter, Rodney Whitaker, Kenny Garrett, Ali Jackson and 

The musicians who remained behind and those who were mentored by the 
local masters are putting out fabulous music.  Shahida Nurullah is 
just one example.  Her CD isn't on WEMU's "hot" list right now, but it 
lived at the top of our airplay list two years ago.  We were there 
first, as we should have been, supporting our local artists.  The Ruby 
and The Pearl is a masterpiece.  I am glad that you all got a chance 
to hear it and share it with your listeners.  I am glad Shahida took 
the plunge to get her disc on the national jazz radar.  I am glad Dr. 
Jazz helped bring this example of Detroit jazz artistry to your 

I bring up this aspect of the discussion, because this may illustrate 
why a music director may not chose to program a lesser-known national 

This has scenario happened to me many, many times: a national release 
will come in.  At the same time, a solid regional release by one of 
these fabulous Detroiters or Ann Arborites will come in.  The 
production values on the regional release will be just as good (or in 
few cases better!!) than the national release.  What am I going to do 
as a music director who wants to serve her community with the best 
balance in familiar to fresh and in regional to national?  I will give 
the regional release the same respect as the national.  This builds 
respect for the station from listeners.  Respect means listener 
support.  Listener support means the station stays on the air ready to 
accept releases from all over the globe and we will try to balance the 
international deluge with the need to support the local music 

I hope the group understands that music directors consider many 
aspects when deciding whether or not to program a recordings.  
Sometimes, in the case of an outstanding regional release, it is a 
snap decision.  And in the case of a lesser-known national recording, 
the decision may take longer while the music director figures out how 
to make this one part of the unique mix of his-her station.

Another aside--it's daylight savings time change day today.  Yay!! 
time for lots of light after work so I can go for long walks and 
listen to the birds.  That puts balance in to my life of spinning jazz 
records, dealing with my staff and dealing with all the labels.

Enjoy spring everyone,


Linda Yohn
WEMU Music Director
lyohn at emich.edu

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