[JPL] Background to "the query"

ken-irwin at comcast.net ken-irwin at comcast.net
Thu Jun 14 17:51:22 EDT 2007

In response to your query and research.  We have found that many of our younger listeners are more excited by the more "challenging" music that we play.  We have been fortunate at WMUA to have jazz programming that is just as welcoming to Ornette and William Parker as it is to Pops and Josh Redmond. We have made it our goal to expose our audience to more "adventurous" music by booking acts in our Magic Triangle Jazz Series that are sort of "under the radar" and are often quite adventurous.  Our area is the home of Eremite Records and our joint ventures dovetail nicely.  These presentations are well accepted, and I find that often the most ardent fans of this programming style are fairly young.  (25-45 years old.)  Often it is the older fogies that can't find the music accessible.  In the past couple of years we have presented Joe McPhee, Roscoe Mitchell, Graham Haynes, Vijay Iyer & Rudresh Mahanthappa, Mia Masaoka, Andrew Cyrille, Sun Ra Arkestra, Ran Blake, David Murray, Charles T
olliver, Alan Silva, Michelle Rosewoman, Cecil Taylor, and several different musical configurations from William Parker including the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra.  Of course we play their music on WMUA as well during our jazz programs.  This combination, along with our world programming is what seems to be the ticket for our younger listeners.  Perhaps we are an anomaly, and being a College FM as opposed to an NPR affiliate gives us more latitude to experiment.  There is always a good size young audience that is tuned to fusion, and the sort of music that is created by Fagan and Becker, and of course I would never disagree with anything Dick LaP has to say.  (I'm not worthy! - Dick is one of the most astute musicologists I have ever met.)  I would be interested to see some folks try to take a walk on the "wild" side, instead of the "mild" side once in a while.
Also, are there any folks planning to go to the Society for Ethnomusicolgy conference in October?

Ken Irwin 
Jazz Music Director and Host of "Java Jazz" 
University of Mass. at Amherst 
105 Lincoln Campus Center 
Amherst, MA 01003 

Web: www.wmua.org 
E-mail: jazz at wmua.org 
E-mail: ken-irwin at comcast.net 
Phone: 413-454-2876

-------------- Original message -------------- 
From: Linda Yohn <lyohn at emich.edu> 

> This Week's JPL Sponsor: The New JazzWeek 
> Relaunching this summer 
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 
> Hello, 
> Thank you to the many who have responded off-list and to those who 
> have responded on the list with a response to my "80s-90s pop 
> sensiblity" query. It has been interesting. I knew about the covers 
> and may that be the way to go, although I hope that I can find more 
> newer sounding music that isn't just covers. (Sure wish Fresh Sound- 
> New Talet would service radio...!) 
> I sense that there are some newer members on the list who are not 
> aware of me or the station I work for. I'll quickly explain myself 
> first. 
> I come from a musical family. I have loved jazz all my life. Nothing 
> in the world would give me greater pleasure than appreciating it's 
> beauty, joy, sensitivity, swing, verve, swagger, energy, intelligence 
> with listeners. I truly enjoy being on the air. I love communicating 
> with people. I love people and I love jazz music. All I would like 
> in life is to pay my bills, keep my marriage filled with love, stay 
> healthy and play jazz music on the radio for listeners. 
> I've been music director at WEMU for 20 years. We are in the most 
> crowded public radio market in the nation. No joke. A listener in 
> Ann Arbor can receive classical music from WKAR-FM in Lansing, news- 
> talk from WKAR-AM in Lansing, news-talk from WUOM in Ann Arbor, news- 
> talk-jazz-folk from WDET in Detroit, classical-jazz from WRCJ in 
> Detroit, classical music-news from WGTE in Toledo, all the programs 
> from CBC, free-form and jazz from WCBN in Ann Arbor, fine college 
> radio from Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn and a very 
> agressive AAA station 107.1 in Ann Arbor that has lots of money to 
> throw at taking away the WEMU listener. We are programming jazz, 
> blues, news and special programs such as Cuban, Brazilian, funk and 
> roots music. We have done all the right things for years. We MC 
> shows, we give free talks at libraries, we throw listener appreciation 
> parties, we volunteer at community events, we do give-aways, we do 
> interviews, we do co-sponsorships, we hang out and more. 
> We have tried programming in just a strict mainstream fasion for 
> years. And for years, that served us very well. But, our audience is 
> growing older. They are moving away. They are retiring to the 
> Carolinas, Arkansas, Nevada. The people moving in to Ann Arbor to 
> take their place are very hip. They work in research, for The 
> University of Michigan, education, medical research and health care or 
> in development in the automotive industry. 
> In my original e-mail I never said that WEMU would forsake the best 
> classics. We will play the best Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Billie 
> Holiday, Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, Jimmy Smith, Gerry Mulligan, John 
> Coltrane, etc. We will not forsake them. But, I must find more 
> current, modern acoustic musical sonorities and rhythms in jazz to 
> work with these classics. 
> In fact, WEMU has to "chase their ears"! If we don't try to play what 
> we think they would like to hear, they won't listen. There is so much 
> good radio competition--not to mention the fact that Sirius radio 
> comes in new cars--and that Ann Arbor is high-tech heaven where people 
> love their online listening. We can't say "this is good for you...eat 
> your peas (jazz)!" 
> In an area that abounds with 35 year old people to have your median 
> listener age of your station be 55+ is scary. In defense of the 
> current listeners--they are incredibly generous. We have less 
> listeners giving more and more. We have taken many cutbacks at 
> Eastern Michigan University and listeners have stepped up. We will 
> take another cut very soon. Can our current only 55+ contingent be 
> counted on forever? 
> The move to find newer musical sonorities will assure that WEMU stays 
> on the air and that Eastern Michigan University does not sell the 
> frequency to a religious broadcasting organization for a much-needed 
> quick financial windfall to a troubled university. It has happened at 
> many universities. Just ask Dennis Naranjo about losing his gig in 
> Flint, Michigan. 
> I need to keep my job. I am the main breadwinner of my family. I 
> have a mortgage to pay. I have to think about the future of my 
> position at WEMU. I have to think about the future of this station. 
> I think it can be in jazz-news-blues, but if we just do what we've 
> been doing for the past 20 years we will be gone. 
> If you work in a situation where you can just play what you want to 
> play, consider yourself very, very fortunate. That used to be my 
> world, but I don't live there anymore. I live in competitive, cash- 
> poor Southeastern Michigan and I have to think smart to keep my gig. 
> That's the more of the background than maybe some of you wanted, but 
> that's the scenario. I'm prepared to take more hits on the list, but 
> I have to think about a future. 
> In closing, I must tell you that I really do love jazz. Ben Webster, 
> Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Parker, Jimmy Giuffre. In my 
> dream world I could just play their music and people would throw money 
> at me. 
> In jazz love, 
> Linda 
> Linda Yohn 
> WEMU Music Director 
> lyohn at emich.edu 
> 734.487.2229 
> www.wemu.org 
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 
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