[JPL] Re: Younger people on the radio

Jeff Turton jturton at comcast.net
Fri Mar 9 17:30:29 EST 2007


I applaud Sarah's for Music Director for taking that chance on her.  
Personally I would rather have a radio professional than a Jazz fan  
sitting in the host chair . I'd rather have someone who understands  
radio concepts and structures, understands proper on air demeanor and  
has an entertaining personality. If they are interested in the  
music , they can be more than adequately trained. The problem I have  
with most Jazz fans who want to do radio is that they bring too many  
preconceived ideas as to what Jazz radio should be, based on their  
past experiences and their musical preferences. Younger folks who are  
trained in Radio don't bring those preconceived ideas to how they  
approach Jazz presentation. They do Radio and Jazz just happens to be  
the music they are presenting. We've had the discussion many times  
before but I want radio to be entertaining not an educational  
exercise. There's a place for a specialty show with that style but  
you definitely don't want your general daily air presentation to be  
that way. I've heard way too many jazz fans as radio hosts. It's  
rarely good. My first co-host was a Jazz fan who thought that because  
of his extensive musical knowledge his approach to Jazz programming  
was better than that stations Program Director. It got pretty ugly  
before he was let go after just 6 weeks. I hired Andy Cook (who  
helped get this discussion going) and Mike Adams because I knew they  
would be able to execute my concept of what Jazz needed to sound like  
on FNX. Andy had extensive music knowledge and wanted to learn the  
nuts and bolts of radio presentation and Mike had good on air chops  
but wasn't as knowledgeable. They were both very young when I hired  
them. They have both developed in to solid Jazz radio professionals  
that any one would be proud to have on their airwaves.

Jeff Turton
WFNX Jazz Brunch


On Mar 9, 2007, at 3:45 PM, Toulouse, Sarah wrote:

> This Week's JPL Sponsor: SUMMIT RECORDS
>
>
> As an early-30's woman, who has nearly a decade of jazz/music hosting
> experience in a major market, (and having now experienced first- 
> hand how
> unfixed radio is, and how programming and formats can change, and
> therefore change your life -- including in public radio) I'd like to
> chime in on this topic.
>
> First of all, my former music director, two decades my elder, took a
> chance on hiring me right out of college at 20 (BA in Communications,
> started my professional career while still in school as a freelance
> public affairs reporter before I started working in the music dept.  
> for
> WBEZ).  I had to develop my chops for about the first four years  
> before
> I had a regular full-time gig, all the while also developing my  
> role as
> a producer for our performance / music programs such as the Jazz/Blues
> Festival b'casts, and local music-related segments for our talk shows.
>
> I had wonderful mentors - my fellow music hosts - to bring me along,
> ages ranging from 30s to 70s, men and women, Latino, African American
> and white.  When I screwed up a name or pronunciation or a fact, they
> simply told me the correct way to say things, without pretension.   
> I had
> regular air-checks with my MD to review how I was progressing.  No one
> made me feel stupid or embarrassed, and they all made me feel like  
> they
> had once also been in my shoes and gave me encouragement that I  
> could be
> just as good as them, with some experience under my belt.   I can play
> the guitar and did learn general music knowledge as it did help in the
> development of my job to have some of that background info, but I  
> didn't
> come to radio as a musician or music student.   Before the  
> internet, we
> had actual books around the studios so I could double check facts and
> find interesting stories to tell....NOT just names and dates and Jazz
> 101 lecture.  Who tunes in to for a music show on radio for a lecture
> anyway?  Does anyone go to a jazz show to be lectured?  I never
> understood this notion that the academic tone is supposedly the gold
> standard for a jazz programmer.  It's boring and elitist.  Jazz and
> classical seems to be the only type of programming that takes this
> approach...and how's that been working for us in the last 10 years? I
> did happen to have an affinity for jazz, as well as other genres of
> music, so that helped, but I was certainly not a walking encyclopedia
> when I first started.
>
> The older generation has been fortunate to experience many of the  
> great
> artists first hand, however, the next generation, like me, was not  
> even
> born until after greats like Duke Ellington died.   We have to  
> learn how
> to carry the history with us, but also we DO have our own current
> generation of artists, doing great work that WE relate to, but the  
> older
> generation (generally speaking, of course), seems to be ignoring.  I
> think we all can learn a lot from each other and move forward with  
> more
> compelling radio.
>
> And moving on to radio itself, when it comes to being a professional
> broadcaster, especially for public radio, the job requires a  
> proficiency
> in a variety of areas beyond simply personal interests/knowledge base,
> and beyond knowledge of JUST jazz (or whatever your main gig is).  I
> find this to be a problem with a lot of programmers/producers,
> regardless of age, but specifically, I find that the younger  
> generation
> is not being mentored or trained to develop a broad knowledge base,  
> and
> a well-studied knowledge base at that.  (Note to Jae - I hear grown
> folks say names wrong all the time too....but I think we're all  
> speaking
> in general terms with this topic anyway).
>
> The listeners' interests are not singular, so why should we approach
> programming, regardless if it is music or news/talk, with a narrow
> focus.  Sure, jazz aficionados like to hear the rundown of all the
> members playing on a tune, with the recording date, etc, but why just
> think of that niche audience only?  Regular people don't give a  
> crap, so
> they tune out either bored to death with all the facts and technical
> music talk, or they feel like they don't belong to the secret jazz
> elitist club. Why not try to relate the music to more general areas to
> regular life?  For example, jazz pops up in films and has been part of
> culture in more ways than strictly just being music for music's
> sake...why not relate some of those general interest connections to  
> jazz
> during the course of a program?
>
> Also, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Wilke's statement about it  
> being
> easier (I'm taking this as also meaning better, sorry if that was not
> the implication) to train a jazz fan/musician to be a host rather  
> than a
> radio/communications grad (or newer broadcaster, not necessarily just
> young) to be a jazz host.   I think there are already too many jazz  
> fans
> working as hosts, who don't also take the initiative to study how  
> radio
> and audience works.  In my opinion, this is one of the reasons jazz
> continues to fade out of public radio frequencies.   I have always
> thought of myself as a radio programmer first, and the genres I worked
> with as the focus of my job - my "beat" if you will.....not the other
> way around.  Just as the city hall reporter has to keep informed and
> study everything there is to know about his/her news beat, the same
> approach should be applied to a music host.  Also, every market is
> different, every audience for any given daypart could be different,  
> and
> I never understood how JUST the taste of one jazz fan (just the host's
> taste) is considered sufficient to determine programming decisions,
> without getting to know what kind of audience you are programming to.
>
>
> Before our station cut most of our music programming in January, I was
> hosting a "traditional" jazz slot weeknights and had a specialty  
> program
> on Fridays that focused on more modern jazz, as well as some other
> modern forms of music, not necessarily categorized as jazz, but
> complimentary as far as the sound and tone for this program was
> concerned.  I did bring some of those modern artists into the  
> weeknight
> shows a couple times a night.  I wouldn't make the train go off the
> track, but I would try to introduce some newer artists and sounds that
> complimented a set one to three times over the course of a four or  
> five
> hour show.  (For the record, our weeknight jazz had about 100,000
> listeners a night, and I did see in one book my Friday night specialty
> show hit an 8 share...whoo hoo, granted it was on pretty late, but
> still, a freaking 8 share!).  Then, the dominant news/talk wave  
> came to
> Chicago.
>
> There is a wide and diverse range of artists making music that could
> work with existing current jazz formats, if programmers would open  
> up a
> bit.  Now, I don't believe programming to every single style that  
> falls
> under the jazz umbrella works either.  Trying to please everyone at  
> the
> same time doesn't seem to please anyone.   However, within a "regular"
> jazz format, I think it is great to throw in something different than
> the usual suspects occasionally - say once an hour, or every other  
> hour,
> frequent enough to catch a listener's ear without throwing them off  
> the
> rails.  Some specialty shows could also help appeal to a younger/new
> audience.  (I don't know why NPR suits don't seem to get that most
> younger people have historically been drawn into public radio through
> the music programming -- not talk --, but hay, I'm not a GM or PD, so
> what do I know.)
>
> Here were my picks for best of 2006 releases, most were featured on my
> specialty show, but there are several here that I would also include
> during weeknight jazz either regularly or on occasion, depending on  
> the
> release.
>
> ARTIST -- CD
>
> Hazmat Modine -- Bahamut
> World Saxophone Quartet -- Political Blues
> John Ellis -- By A Thread
> Dr. Lonnie Smith -- Jungle Soul
> Jack DeJohnette/Bill Frisell -- The Elephant Sleeps...
> Jamie Saft Trio -- Trouble
> OOIOO -- Taiga
> Nomo -- Newtones
> Bobby Previte -- Coalition of the Willing
> Charlie Hunter -- Copperopolis
> Skeriks Syncopated Taint Septet -- Husky
> Stanton Moore -- III
> Medeski Scofield Martin Wood -- Out Louder
> Ernest Dawkins New Horizons Ensemble -- The Messenger
> Von Freeman -- Good Forever
> Spaceheater -- The Record
> Gianluca Petrella - Indigo 4
> Dave Douglass -- Meaning and Mystery
> Nino Moschella -- The Fix
> Dead Combo -- Vol. 2
> Juana Molina -- Son
> Extra Golden -- Ok Oyot System
> BellRays -- Have A Little Faith
> Irma Thomas -- After The Rain
> Califone -- Roots & Crowns
> Islands -- Back To Sea
> Annuals -- Be He Me
> Beirut -- Gulag Orkestar
>
> Ok, thanks for wading through my manifesto.  God speed to all music
> programmers left out there in pubic radio (Hurray for the return of  
> the
> classical station in D.C....perhaps the tide is turning again?)
>
> Best regards,
> Sarah Toulouse
> Producer, Programming/Performance Studio
> Chicago Public Radio (yes, I'm still here)
>
>
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