[JPL] Jazz RADIO

Eric Jackson eric-jackson at comcast.net
Wed Mar 7 07:24:41 EST 2007


On Tuesday 06 March 2007 16:43, jturton at comcast.net wrote:
> This Week's JPL Sponsor: SUMMIT RECORDS
>
>
> 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

Hi Jeff,

Since you do a weekly jazz show, I'm curious about what you mean by 
repetition. I don't think that means that you repeat the same cut during one 
show. I think I've heard you play more than one tune from a single CD during 
one of your shows.  Even if you do that, my guess is that it would be rare 
for a CD to be played more than 8 times in a month and most would be played 4 
times in a month. Is that what you mean by repetition?

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


>
>
>  -------------- 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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