[JPL] Bobby/Lazaro

Eric Hines EHines at message.nmc.edu
Tue Aug 1 09:28:29 EDT 2006

My email program is screwing up all my list-serves, so I haven't been
able to read all of this line of argument, but what I have read I've
found fascinating.

One quick note: the 1992 Scott DeVeaux study can be found here:

There was a study done by Walrus Research on jazz radio listening
that's been referenced here, but that's the closest thing to a follow-up
that I know of.

Jae and I have had our disagreements here in the past. At the moment,
surprisingly enough, I agree with a lot of what he says. I have no real
technical knowledge of music, but I have to say that I share a lot of
Jae aesthetic reactions to jazz music, and I recognize that some of the
problems with jazz--what can be gotten away with when it comes to
composing, arranging, presentation, pricing, playing--some of these
problems go to the core of what's wrong with jazz radio as well.

But I don't agree that music problems hold any absolute primacy
here--for one thing a lot of these problems or their analogues exist in
other areas of art as well. The "culture is dying" idea is no joke:
there are major changes happening in the way people expect to experience
the aesthetic, and professional artists and presenters are having a hell
of a time adjusting to it.

One thing that is seriously losing traction is Romantic-era artist
worship, and many many artists base  their expectations around the
romantic image of the artist as point-of-contact with the divine, or
artist as someone who automatically commands attention or respect.
People aren't buying that as readily as they once did. People care less
these days that the artist him/herself or other artists s/he knows
consider a work to be important.

This is a trend that extends way beyond jazz, and has nothing to do
with the advent of American Idol. It has to do with what real/potential
arts patrons expect from the aesthetic experience and how they fit it in
their lives.

On the other hand, every medium and tradition will have to respond in
its own way(s) to this transition. Solving jazz's problems may not solve
jazz radio's problems. In fact, I'm fairly certain that it won't. And
it's perfectly possible that jazz can self-destruct and jazz radio can
soldier on--there are plenty of recordings in the can already. Or maybe
jazz radio can go away and public radio will move on to other kinds of
music the audience feels is more relevant to them. I don't say this to
be cruel--just to make a point that the institution I work for is fairly
independent of the fate of contemporary jazz music, and my primary
responsibility as a radio station manager is NOT to save jazz music or
any particular form of it. The more music programmers internalize this
point of view, the greater the likelihood that their favorite
programming will stick around.

On the other other hand, talking about music is definitely a good thing
here. Especially when folks can be as candid and forthright--and I'd say
insightful--as Jae has been. The reason I go on about the "primacy of
your own medium" is that one of the things I think is wrong with jazz
radio is that all of the creative thinkers are fixated on music and not
on radio.

Just a few years ago when Jae and I first began squabbling here, there
was hardly any programming discussion on ths board at all. People who
love jazz radio got to get to know the radio side of things better and
to shape jazz radio to do better as radio programming. No one else is
going to be able to do it.

Eric Hines
General Manager
WNMC 90.7 FM
1701 East Front St.
Traverse City, MI 49686


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