[JPL] Jazz RADIO

Eric Jackson eric-jackson at comcast.net
Tue Mar 6 15:53:53 EST 2007


On Tuesday 06 March 2007 15:13, Jim Wilke wrote:
> This Week's JPL Sponsor: SUMMIT RECORDS
>
>
> Several things occurred to me when reading the following messages.
> Having now been in jazz radio more or less continuously for 50 years
> (!) I have noted a number of changes along the way.
>
> There were not many "jazz stations" then, but there were more "jazz
> shows" on various stations, including many late night/ all night show
> on major market full power AM stations. You could hear at least one or
> two of them no matter where you lived in the US and Canada.  The first
> jazz shows I did were not on jazz stations but on stations that had a
> jazz program or two along with other kinds of programs.  I also think
> listeners paid more attention to music they heard on radio... it wasn't
> just background or lifestyle (ugh!).
>
> I also recall that the major thrust of jazz radio shows was to
> entertain the audience, not to make hit records.  We did ride one when
> the audience asked for a title frequently but we didn't feel it was our
> principal duty to make hits. We were even a little nervous about
> playing anything too frequently because of the payola scandal in pop
> music.   Kind of Blue was a hit out of the gate, we loved the record
> and so did our listeners.  Everybody who played jazz on the radio
> played Kind of Blue frequently.   Coltrane's Atlantic albums got played
> often too, but as tracks got longer and more "challenging" on the later
> impulse albums, he became more controversial and those albums did not
> get played as frequently or even at all on some stations.   In general,
> solos were shorter and more concise before Coltrane than after. You can
> decide if that's a good thing or bad, but I hear a lot of solos (live
> and recorded) that I think would have been better if they had taken
> fewer choruses.  Bird used to say "if you take more than two choruses,
> you're just practicing" and I do get that sense sometimes.
>
> There were far, far fewer records to deal with then, and I think in
> general the quality was higher. Perhaps a 40 minute LP contained more
> carefully chosen music than a 70 minute CD.  Yes, we repeated tunes
> more often, in part because we had fewer tunes to play.  Cannonball,
> Monk, MJQ, Horace Silver, Blakey, Getz, Mulligan, Carmen, Sarah, Dizzy,
> Ahmad Jamal, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith.... all these
> people were recording & touring, often playing clubs for a week at a
> time.  I was doing live broadcasts from a club every week with these
> and others in addition to record shows.
>
> It was a friendlier business, we had more interaction with audiences
> and didn't rely on anonymous research.  But those days are gone and so
> are most of the musicians from the above list.  Our playlists then were
> not filled with late musicians, but with vital, living souls who were
> putting out new albums and playing at a club downtown next week!   We
> should do the same today if want jazz to survive beyond an historical
> artifact.
>
> PS - I don't think "hits" are necessarily based on repetition, although
> it helps.  I've gotten calls on tunes on the very first play - but it
> was a really appealing record!    You didn't have to think twice, do a
> market analysis or call in a focus group to recognize the worth of Kind
> of Blue, Mercy Mercy Mercy, or Waltz for Debbie the first time you
> played them and the phone rang.
>
> I know, we did it all wrong by today's standards, but jazz record sales
> were actually better then than now.  That's kind of interesting, isn't
> it?
>
> Jim Wilke
> Jazz After Hours, PRI
> www.jazzafterhours.org
>


Thank you, Jim for stating that so clearly. I have seen much of what you 
mentioned in my years in radio.

I'm not sure if there was a difference from the west coast to the east coast. 
I have mentioned on this list that I was fortunate growing up in Camden NJ 
just across the bridge  from Philly. I know Philly had 2 commercial jazz 
stations in the early 60s and late 50s. New York had at least one commercial 
jazz station in the 60s. That means you could hear jazz 24 hours a day in 
those major urban centers. 

Eric Jackson
8 pm - mid Mon - Thurs
WGBH Boston
89.7 FM
www.wgbh.org/jazz

> On Tuesday, March 6, 2007, at 10:34  AM, eflash17 at comcast.net wrote:
> > Since you bring up Coltrane, was his music played extensively on the
> > radio in his day ??  I guess I always thought that people were exposed
> > through word of mouth about a particular recording or perhaps live
> > shows if they lived in a city.
> >
> > Being a relative youngster and not around back then, I don't really
> > know.  I mean, did Kind of Blue gain exposure on the radio ?  Were
> > there lots of jazz stations / programs in the 1950's & 1960's ??
> >
> > -------------- Original message --------------
> > From: OntheBeach at aol.com
> >
> >> This Week's JPL Sponsor: SUMMIT RECORDS
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> this is worth another read:
> >> _ed.trefzger at jazzweek.com_ (mailto:ed.trefzger at jazzweek.com) WROTE
> >> I'm as much a champion of anybody for jazz radio, but jazz radio by
> >> and
> >> large has failed jazz in a big way. A top 50 chart makes it very plain
> >> that we provide little exposure for the music. The top CD on the chart
> >> each week ends up averaging fewer than four spins per week per station
> >> -- really more like three -- and the No. 50 CD, less than one.
> >>
> >> Chances are that the average jazz radio listener, listening 5-7 hours
> >> per week, is not going to hear most CDs.
> >>
> >> I used to be very optimistic that this was changing. Sadly, it's not.
> >> If we continue down this path, jazz radio will go from being a small
> >> part of exposing new music to completely irrelevant.
> >>
> >> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >> --------
> >> ---------------------------------------------
> >> ED makes some excellent points, it took guts to come out and say what
> >> he
> >> said:
> >> Re-Read That Last Sentence....now ask yourselves honestly IF " it
> >> will..."
> >> or it has...?
> >>
> >> is a measure of jazz radio's relevancy reflected in the pausity of
> >> weekly
> >> underwriting for this board? the weekly sponsorship is well within
> >> the reach of
> >> just about any entity.
> >>
> >> I too consider myself as much a champion of jazz radio as most (or at
> >> least i
> >> did for many many years--including my five on the air). THINK about
> >> what ed
> >> has stated here:
> >> ---> A # 1 Jazz record averages 3 spins per station per week. Is it
> >> any
> >> wonder we dont have Jazz Hit Records and new Jazz stars? [yes, there
> >> are always
> >> new bright talents, i love
> >> jason moran but is he a star? does anyone really get to hear his
> >> music via
> >> the radio?]
> >>
> >> Jazz hits equate to jazz stars. They can tour as legitimate
> >> attractions.
> >> They keep the scene vibrant. It was always GOOD for the business. 3
> >> spins per
> >> week for a Number 1 record! do the math. how many in your audience
> >> can hear 2
> >> or 3 tracks by this artist more than once or twice? if a listener
> >> tunes in
> >> for 5 to 7 hours per week, they might go weeks without ever hearing a
> >> track you
> >> play 3 times per week.
> >>
> >> its a free country, everyone can make choices. jazz radio has
> >> unfortunately
> >> chosen to run away from the record business on a certain level. and
> >> this is
> >> not just about supporting the major labels [my favorite record of
> >> 2006 was the
> >> Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri on ArtistShare].
> >>
> >> back in the day when jazz radio's impact was clearer, hits developed
> >> based on
> >> enthusiasm
> >> for something that stood out. the DJs at a station talked amongst
> >> themselves, comparing notes on what they dug, what was ringing the
> >> phones etc.
> >> those
> >> now and again great ones got played on every shift. so a track or two
> >> got 5 to
> >> six spins per day--sometimes more.
> >> do you ever get calls every HOUR to play a certain tune? [it used to
> >> happen]
> >>
> >> and lo and behold there were sales and on occasion a record company
> >> tried to
> >> crossover a jazz record to other formats. some jazz albums contained
> >> multiple
> >> hits and stayed in rotation for 6 months. wouldn't you want to milk a
> >> great
> >> record?
> >>
> >> in every generation there are the great ones. i wonder why some of
> >> the great
> >> ones now are not household names? hmmm, kenny garrett? i can
> >> appreciate
> >> trying to give deserving talent a shot--but 1 spin a week isnt giving
> >> anyone a
> >> shot.
> >>
> >> maybe im beating a dead horse. i've spoken about this for many many
> >> years.
> >> broadcasters are communicators. how many stations organize meetings
> >> in their
> >> city to facilitate communication among record stores, clubs,
> >> promoters,
> >> journalists interested in moving the music forward? how many stations
> >> communicate
> >> with other jazz stations in their area, state or region to try and
> >> coordinate
> >> events, tours, sponsorships ?
> >>
> >>
> >> you can hire an independent promotion person for the same amount as
> >> you could
> >> 25 years ago !...problem is the best among them cant deliver a
> >> fraction of
> >> what they once could--because there is no such thing as heavy
> >> rotation. today
> >> more than ever before, people are bombarded with information---heavy
> >> rotation
> >> is what cuts through!
> >>
> >> consider that record you give one spin per week to: if you had more
> >> hours in
> >> the day, would you give it more spins?, give the next thing down its
> >> first
> >> spin, or lean into a great record?
> >>
> >> could john coltrane make it today as a new artist?
> >>
> >> cooperation, communication and commitment.
> >>
> >> there are many committed people--and still some great stations--
> >>
> >> "PASSION, POSSIBILITIES, POSITIVITY and bold ACTION go hand-n-hand"
> >>
> >> cooperate.
> >>
> >> Ricky Schultz
>
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> -------------------------------------------
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> To become a sponsor contact Devon Murphy
> at devon at jazzweek.com / 866-453-6401 x3 or Ed Trefzger at ed at jazzweek.com /
> 866-453-6401 x1.
>
>
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