[JPL] WBEZ

Jackson, Bobby Bobby.Jackson at ideastream.org
Mon Apr 24 19:28:12 EDT 2006


Peeps,

We all have seen the diminishing voice of jazz on the radio all over the
country as illustrated at recently with the events happening at
WBEZ/Chicago.  The red flags come no bigger (well maybe Los Angeles and
New York).  Sharing email blogs that concern this and the conversations
we have on JPL is good but perhaps not the best way to deal with this
problem that we all have been facing; namely the survival of jazz radio.
Every time I see this scenario played out I think "Well there's one more
jazz island gone.... and little no chance to do the work I love in
Chicago or wherever if I ever have a notion to leave Cleveland someday.


Can we use this time and circumstance to take a step back to reflect; to
ponder about the power we do wield with this communication tool we have
called the JPL?  What can we do and how can we share to stop this slow
bloodletting of jazz programming nation wide as a collective concerned
body of programmers and industry people?  Is it possible to use this
forum to share what is happening in our own communities with jazz on and
off the bandstand?

For example, Phillip Booth shared information about the announcement of
Thelonious Monk receiving a Pulitzer Citation recently (April 17th).  I
took that information as an opportunity to call the administrator of the
Pulitzer Prize committee, Sig Gissler to learn more about the Pulitzer
Citation and the significance of the award.  This interview and a few
others I will cull will be part of a program to be inserted into our
"jazz" and "news" programming which will be of interest not only to jazz
fans but also to news listeners.  This story has many layers to it.  Too
many layers to simply play a Thelonious Monk composition, set or hour.
That kind of programmatic thinking will never give this story its proper
weight and context.  There are many questions to ask, much to consider
and much to share with our audience. What is the difference between a
Pulitzer Prize and a Pulitzer Citation?  Why is this significant?  Did
Monk get this award as a reflex on the part of the Pulitzer committee
when they awarded Wynton Marsalis the Pulitzer prize back in 1997 for
Blood On The Fields" and snubbed Duke Ellington all the while he was
alive only to give him a the Pulitzer Citation postumously in 1999?
Etcetera......  I didn't say anything to this forum about what I did
with Phillip's info and perhaps I should have.  By the way, it's not too
late to do something with this story as the official ceremony doesn't
happen in New York until May 22nd.  

Again, I ask the question. Can we share more programming ideas other
than the next music set we construct?  We all know how to do that and
for the most part, it is not working.  Is it a stronger place to share
information about what happening in your communities other than your
weekly, monthly or daily play list?  I don't seek to discourage play
list posting on JPL but I don't believe play list posting is the most
valuable way we spend our time here.  It's not something that makes me a
better programmer.  I don't share my own play lists with you because it
takes up too much of my time and I don't feel any of you benefit from me
sharing another play list.  Phillip's email and others like it gives me
more options and thank you Phillip for that information. I used it!
This forum can be a powerful asset to all of us if we are clever, apply
more elbow grease and out of the box thinking about how we can make it a
more effective tool.  

What tours and activities are happening in your communities that you're
not sharing with us on JPL?  What's going on TV and in the movies etc.
that uses this music and our jazz industry?  How can we use this
information to connect with listeners in broader strokes; strokes that
not only jazz people will be interested in but other people who care or
know little about our jazz world?  

I hear Mulgrew Miller's drummer Karriem Riggins has recently left
Miller's trio to work with hip-hop artists in California.  Why is that?
Do we choose to banish Riggins from the jazz world for sacrilege or do
we ask him AND Mulgrew about that on the air?  What is the angle that
makes the most sense to present this story?  Can we take that
opportunity to talk about the pop albums that Clifford Brown, Donald
Byrd and John Coltrane were associated with in their day?  Is it wisdom
to think about how we might interact with the rest of the world instead
of this constant insular flow of communication with each other?  

Not too long ago I asked this forum to share your thoughts about the
Ramsey Lewis Legends of Jazz TV series.  Why is it that the TV series
Legends of Jazz only have jazz musicians as guests?  Are they the only
ones that qualify to be guests?  Where is Clint Eastwood, Spike Lee,
Bill Clinton, Kareem Jabbar, Dr. J, Common, GURU and Mos Def?  Why
didn't Roy Hargrove talk about his hip-hop projects and his intersection
with other parts of our culture when he participated on the show with
Clark Terry and Chris Botti?  Where is the conversation about what
happened to New Orleans and where do we go from here?  Where are women
other than vocalists represented on this show?  

A lot of people in our camp were very critical of Ken Burns and Wynton
about the JAZZ series.  Interestingly enough, that series created the
biggest spike in viewership on behalf of jazz in many years and that
spike also showed up in sales at retail record stores.  The attraction
was NOT the music.  It was the stories that attached themselves to the
music. The people also GOT the music and the responded by BUYING it! We
often are too focused on "the music" and not "the mechanisms" that can
bring people to this music, which brings me to what's happening right
now. How many Thelonious Monk recordings can we sell on the eve of his
Pulitzer Citation recognition by purely playing the music?  Should we
not make a big deal about the story as well?  Opportunity knocks!!!
(More on this later I'm sure)

Can we build new paradigms that speak to not only the jazz choir (such
pretty robes) but also build new audience?  How do we get Joe "I don't
care about jazz" into the church?  I feel our insular, antiquated and
overworked approach has created a situation where we are feeding on our
selves and we are dying a slow death. The sad part of this is that no
one cares but us.

By the way, As of this moment in Cleveland we are enjoying the 27th
Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland running now through the 30th. Just google Tri-C
Jazz Fest and look at our lineup.  Some of these bands may be in your
neck of the woods soon.  You might want to catch them before they get
there.

Aloha,

Bobby Jackson
WCPN-FM/Cleveland, OH
   


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