[JPL] Letter about WBEZ

Mark Ruffin mruffin at jazzusa.com
Wed Apr 12 00:56:24 EDT 2006

This was forwarded to me and thought it might stir some more passion.

On behalf of: Joe Williams, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Mel Torme, Eddie
Harris, Sonny Seals, Johnny Hartman, Art Hodes, Lionel Hampton, Gene Ammons,
Dinah Washington,Daddio Daylie, Luba Raasheik, Milton Suggs, Penny
Pendleton, Joe Daly, Oscar Brown Jr., Frank Mantooth, Steve Jensen,  Junior
Wells, Muddy Waters and all the living Chicago musicians who make our city
Thanks so very much for extinguishing the sound of Chicago Jazz, Blues and
World Music from the WBEZ, public airwaves. Instead of proudly trumpeting
Chicago's awesome multi cultural music heritage, WBEZ has driven another
nail in the live music coffin. In an era of American Idol, our public radio
needs to be a beacon of Chicago music culture.
   What once was great jazz and music radio slowly had the life choked out
of it. Once upon a time Larry Smith played the hottest fastest bebop ever
heard on radio. Not for everyone, but a burning hot show! Larry also had
wonderful live in studio performances on a weekly basis. Dick Buckley was on
all week playing great jazz, "the good old good ones". 
   Jazz is the music of freedom, freedom to improvise and express yourself.
When the current music director began, the torch of freedom was
extinguished. Great jazz DJs were given a play list by a programmer whose
taste in jazz is at best mediocre. A programmer who has no audible
appreciation for the powerful swing rhythm that kept jazz alive and
prospering. If live jazz were as tame as the tempos programmed on WBEZ, live
jazz would be as dead as the WBEZ jazz and music format.
    Dick Buckley quit, and only came back when given the freedom to swing as
he does every Sunday from noon till 3pm. Stuart Rosenberg, Barry Winograd,
Neil Tesser, Mark Ruffin all left or were fired because they have the free
spirit of jazz in them. They know "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got
that Swing.
    Most radio stations like a uniform, 24-hour format. It seems to be the
most efficient way to build an audience. Chicago Public Radio is different,
it must at least consider how its programming decisions impact  Chicago as a
whole. Chicago Public radio should re-consider this very hurtful decision to
kill the music. The solution for WBEZ was not to end their music
programming, but to improve it. Chicago has more than enough great DJs in
the tradition of Dick Buckley, Richard Steele and blues DJs like Steve
    I call on all those who love great Chicago music, not to stand by and
let our public radio abandon our great music heritage. Let WBEZ, The City of
Chicago and the FCC hear your voice. 
    It's not that we will miss WBEZ music programming as it is, but what
WBEZ could and should be.

Dave Freeman, Jazz DJ, and a fan of great radio
Lincoln Square, Chicago



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