[JPL] Jazz RADIO

jturton at comcast.net jturton at comcast.net
Tue Mar 6 16:43:02 EST 2007


Jim makes a number of good points and while I agree with many of them, there's one thing missing. People do not use the radio the same way they did in the past. Even as late as the 70's I think much of what we admired about radio (and why most of us got involved) were still relevant but if you are under 50 you grew up listening to radio in a different way. I've been involved in radio since 1969 and many of my experiences are the same as Jim, Eric and many others on the board. Unfortunately Radio is not the same as it was and to continue approaching how you program the music in the same way, you are guaranteed to fail. There are many reasons for Jazz to lose relevance with radio listeners but I firmly believe one of them, is that we have failed to accurately recognize that radio listeners changed and they use the radio as just one of many media choices. We've lamented this in various discussions over the years but that doesn't change the fact that we need to change and figure out ho
w to once again be relevant to those who still listen to the radio. You may not want to agree with Ed or Ricky that spins matter but in the radio world of 2007 they do. While repetition may not make hits, it will allow listeners to hopefully hear those tracks we feel deserve the attention of our audience. I have been the only Jazz show on Commercial Rock stations for 26 years now, so since 1980/81 when WBUR changed it's Weekend Jazz to news (I was one of the first casualties of this trend, BUR just started before most)  I have not had the luxury of programming to a Jazz oriented audience. 


Jeff Turton
WFNX Jazz Brunch


 -------------- Original message ----------------------
From: Jim Wilke <jwilke123 at comcast.net>
> 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
> 


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