[JPL] Get Out'Tha Ghetto!

mileswillis at wpfw.org mileswillis at wpfw.org
Fri Aug 8 11:34:08 EDT 2008

   Dear Mr. Davis,

     I think that I understand your sentiments but must take strong  
exception to your characterization of a commitment to playing 'pure'  
jazz as some stubborn 'ghetto-ization' of the music that may  
ultimately lead to it's disappearance from the radio airwaves.

     I assume that what you are hinting at is the mixing of music that  
is referred to as 'smooth' or 'contemporary' along with jazz for the  
purpose of gaining greater general audience appeal. You go on to infer  
that doing so will lead to "developing a mindset... that programs jazz  
as a part of an interesting, challenging, sophisticated general music  
format", as though the playing of ONLY jazz cannot precipitate such a  
development. This thought makes apparent that you, inexplicably, do  
not find jazz itself to be 'interesting, sophisticated and  
challenging' on it's own and can only become so by diluting it's  
presention with non-jazz music. 

     Being that you are (or claim to be) a jazz radio programmer, I'm  
deeply troubled by your assertion that we must 'rid (ourselves) of the  
idea that (we)... owe something to this genre... (or that) it must be  
kept "pure"'!? First of all, it is the musicians who keep it the art  
form "pure" by respecting and absorbing it's traditions as  
they continue it's evolvement. Even more disconcerting is your belief  
that it is BOTH musicians and radio people who are responsible for  
this 'ghetto-ization', which you define, rather clumsily, as "making  
music that appeals primarily to academic circles--conservatory  
musicians and a few fellow travellers". While I do acknowledge that  
some of jazz' more abstract forms/genres are difficult for even some  
of it's most avid fans to appreciate, there is no reason why the more  
traditional and/or mainstream works cannot have more broad popular  
appeal far beyond the conservatories and academic circles,  
particularly if it... you know, swings.

        You blame the music and the 'purity' with which we stubbornly  
present it as the reason for it's disappearance from radio, implying  
is that a larger potential audience awaits if we'd all just 'lighten  
up'. The truth is that too few people ever get to hear jazz in the  
first place. We, the musicians and 'radio people', need to promote the  
music to, shall we say, 'underserved' populations. Let's go to the  
schools, community centers, bookstores, etc. to talk about and play  
this great music for those who've never had the opportunity to hear  
it, which would include just about everyone, everwhere. The music can  
create it own demand or, to paraphrase, 'if they hear it they will dig  
it'. For nearly a century jazz has stood upon its own merits,  
diluting, however well-intentioned, it is the surest path toward its  

Miles Willis
WPFW - Washington, DC  

Quoting Eric Hines <ehines at message.nmc.edu>:
> This week's sponsor:  JazzWeek Summit 2009 -- dates and venue to be   
> announced in August; registration opens in September.
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> How do we stop these changes? Jazz programmers have to get as serious
> about radio as they are about jazz. I've seen plenty of progress here at
> jpl over the years on that issue, but there's still a lot of work to be
> done.
> One thing that I think needs to happen is that programmers have to rid
> themselves of the idea that they,a s radio programmers, owe something to
> the genre "jazz" or that this genre has to be kept "pure." Radio is a
> mass medium; if you don't use it (less than 1 AQH share in wmub's case),
> you lose it. I know a lot of us (including me) have a long way to go in
> that respect, but that's the battle we're fighting.
> Developing a mindset--and programs--that programs jazz as a part of an
> interesting, challenging, sophisticated general music format probably is
> the only chance there is for jazz music on radio. And the more musicians
>   and radio people ghettoize the music (by making music that appeals
> primarily to academic circles--conservatory musicians and a few fellow
> travellers; by programming shows consisting largely of such music), the
> more likely it will be ghettoized on the radio as well--to places like
> HD, which, frankly, is a bad joke which we won't have to kick around for
> very long in any case.
> --eric
> Eric Hines
> General Manager
> WNMC 90.7 FM
> http://www.wnmc.org[1] ( http://www.wnmc.org/[2] )
> 1701 East Front St.
> Traverse City, MI 49686
> 231-995-2562
> Play in NMC’s scholarship golf outing Aug. 7 (
> http://www.nmc.edu/foundation/events/golf-scholarship.html[3] ) (
> http://www.nmc.edu/alumni/update.html[4] )
>>>> "Dr. Jazz" <drjazz at drjazz.com> 8/7/2008 3:11 PM >>>
> This week's sponsor:  JazzWeek Summit 2009 -- dates and venue to be
> announced in August; registration opens in September.
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> WMUB (Miami U) in Ohio has just changed to an all news & info station,
> and has moved all music to their HD channel.  From their website:
> *Why These Changes?
> *As many of our listeners know, in the last 18 months WMUB has been the
> subject of a major internal study from Miami University, chaired by
> Journalism Program Chair Richard Campbell. The radio environment both
> nationally and locally has seen rapid change during that time, but as
> General Manager of WMUB I did not feel it was appropriate to institute
> anything but very minor changes to our overall programming mix during
> this time.
> Now that review is over, and it is time for WMUB to move ahead. The
> committee's recommendation of dynamic partnerships on and off campus
> has
> challenged us to live up to our mission as never before:
>      * Miami's review affirmed WMUB's role as a public service radio
>        station.
>      * We believe that commitment is best served by a full-time mix of
>        local and national news and information programming.
>      * By focusing our format, we believe we will increase our ability
> to
>        attract and retain new listeners as well as serve the great
>        majority of current listeners.
>      * This change thus orients us toward future growth in audience and
>        local fundraising capacity.
>      * The resources of the WMUB news room will build on the best of
>        and now (for the first time) the BBC.
>      * Repeating Diane Rehm and Talk of the Nation reinforces the
>        centrality of our news and information format.
>      * The repeats give those who can't listen during the daytime the
>        chance to experience the depth of NPR's talk shows.
>      * The BBC World Service gives an international scope and
> perspective
>        unmatched by any other available source.
>      * Although other stations in the area carry some BBC also, we will
>        carry more hours, and at different times.
>      * The *HD2 Jazz channel* <http://www.wmub.org/HDradio/[5]> and its
>        associated live web stream provide the appropriate vehicles for
>        presenting Mama Jazz to her audience as well as our overnight
> and
>        daytime jazz offerings.
>      * We will be able to provide further opportunities to work with
>        Miami students in a professional environment.
> What can be done to stop this continuing trend by non-commercial
> stations?
> -Dr.
> --
> Dr. Jazz
> Dr. Jazz Operations
> 24270 Eastwood
> Oak Park, MI  48237
> (248) 542-7888
> http://www.drjazz.com[6] ( http://www.drjazz.com/[7] )
> SKYPE:  drjazz99
> --
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[1] http://www.wnmc.org/
[2] http://www.wnmc.org/
[3] http://www.nmc.edu/foundation/events/golf-scholarship.html
[4] http://www.nmc.edu/alumni/update.html
[5] http://www.wmub.org/HDradio/
[6] http://www.drjazz.com/
[7] http://www.drjazz.com/
[8] http://lists.jazzweek.com/mailman/listinfo/jazzproglist
[9] http://lists.jazzweek.com/pipermail/jazzproglist/
[10] http://lists.jazzweek.com/mailman/listinfo/jazzproglist
[11] http://lists.jazzweek.com/pipermail/jazzproglist/

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