[JPL] Time To Re-Think How We Do Radio

Jae Sinnett jaejazz at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 16 17:24:20 EST 2009

You are right Bobby and that's certainly one approach. I think...to my disadvantage in talking about these sort of things about radio is that most simply view me as a musician instead of a programmer. So consequently when I talk about radio the presumption could be that I'm approaching it from the musicians perspective. In my example from the previous note that would be true. However, the core of this issue has little to do with that. 

I think every programmer on this list with a few years under their belt..as you and I have as a jazz host and programmer...can tap into the my thinking with this and give the listeners something more to latch on to in terms of comprehending what they're hearing. The history is cool and helpful but truthfully it misses the point of the problem...which is a musical one from my perspective. Everywhere I go as a performer there are always questions about the musical applications of the music. People are practically begging to "get it" but many don't. That's the problem with jazz and too often those of us in it consciously assume because we get it everyone else should or does. I rarely get asked questions about the history unless someone wants to ask my view on a particular artist or recording. That's usually the extent of wanting to know the history but the thing they are most interested in is how the music works. Many are afraid to ask with fear of sounding
 ignorant but that's what they want to know. 

I think we're missing a great opportunity here to help folks with this and you don't have to be a musician necessarily to help them. There are "points' and such that many pocess in radio that can help the listeners but the focus and intentions have to be different. If we don't do something and start talking about this we're going to see fewer and fewer hours of jazz being broadcast. Then that will hurt live jazz. It's the domino affect really. I see it working here and I know it can else were but few seem to be interested in talking about it. 

Jae Sinnett 

--- On Fri, 1/16/09, Jackson, Bobby <Bobby.Jackson at ideastream.org> wrote:

> From: Jackson, Bobby <Bobby.Jackson at ideastream.org>
> Subject: RE: [JPL] Time To Re-Think How We Do Radio
> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
> Date: Friday, January 16, 2009, 4:45 PM
> Sponsored by: JazzWeek Summit 2009
>               http://summit.jazzweek.com/
> -----
> Aloha Jae and fellow JPL'ers,
> To quote Duke Ellington in his book, "Music Is My
> Mistress" and it's one
> of my favorite quotes about jazz....
> "To not know the history of this music, is to miss
> much of its charm."
> It is a beautiful and telling quote!  That being said, I
> believe you
> don't have to be a musician, to share what you know
> about this music to
> get people appreciate and get closer to the music.  You can
> get "behind"
> the music and share stories that you know about the songs,
> the people;
> the times it was created in to get people to listen in a
> different way.
> For example....
> During the 60's we all know about the bombing of that
> church in
> Birmingham, AL that claimed the lives of 4 little girls.  I
> could play
> "Alabama" by John Coltrane and not give that
> particular background.
> I've heard hosts back announce the players and the year
> it came out.
> How boring and insider is that approach!!  It would sound
> like a dirge
> because of its somber tone and the uninitiated would
> probably tune it
> out.  OR, I could talk about that incident and lead it up
> to the John
> Coltrane song "Alabama" and the set up would give
> listeners a chance to
> listen with an intent based on the history of why it was
> written in the
> first place.  I might even tell them how the song makes me
> feel.  Now
> that's getting personal, showing a little vulnerability
> and above all,
> being human!  This kind of set up gives listeners a chance
> to use their
> own aural imagery creating that tragic moment.  This kind
> of set up has
> the potential to move from their heads to their hearts. 
> The context the
> song is presented in makes all the difference in the world
> to how you
> will listen to it.  
> I had a conversation with my Mom just last night about Sam
> Cooke's "A
> Change Is Gonna Come."  She knew the song because it
> was popular but she
> didn't connect it to what was happening at the time it
> was created.  I
> gave her the background of Bob Dylan's
> "Blowin' In The Wind and his
> connection to Woody Guthrie through Alan Lomax and all of
> these
> connections through the Civil Rights struggle.  Now she
> listens with a
> different intensity to all of this music.  
> As programmer's we should always look for ways to
> connect the music back
> through our culture.  Like Charlie Parker once said,
> "If you don't live
> it, it won't come out of your horn."  Music truly
> is a reflection of the
> times it's created in.  As programmer's there is a
> need to be more
> intimate with the music that we serve our audiences.  Not
> only will we
> grow our audiences we will grow ourselves.
> Keep A Light In The Window,
> Bobby Jackson
> -----Original Message-----
> From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com
> [mailto:jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] On Behalf Of Jae
> Sinnett
> Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 3:36 PM
> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
> Subject: [JPL] Time To Re-Think How We Do Radio
> Sponsored by: JazzWeek Summit 2009
>               http://summit.jazzweek.com/
> -----
> I've been thinking about this for a while now and what
> brought it to a
> head with me was a show I did this past Monday evening. My
> bigger point
> will be made later in this note. 
> I had a few "local" musicians on the show with me
> and we performed. One
> section of the performance was educational in that I was
> able to explain
> to our listeners...to a degree...and demonstrate...how jazz
> works. I
> asked the guys what questions do listeners of their music
> ask the most.
> "How does the rest of the band know when to come back
> in after the drum
> breaks?" " How do you know what to play for your
> solo?" "I get lost when
> the solos start so how do I learn to follow along?"
> "It just sounds
> muddled to me so how can I learn to hear the music more
> clearly?" "I
> have a heard time with the rhythm of jazz...can you help me
> to
> understand?" These are just a few of many but what it
> clearly shows is
> that many that listen to jazz...don't really understand
> it. Now think
> about those that don't listen...they don't because
> I would bet they
> simply don't understand the music and most that
> don't understand don't
> have much positive to say about it and won't give it a
>  shot.  
> The response to that section of the show was amazing.
> Ninety percent of
> the responses where about that portion of the show. What
> this tells me
> is that clearly many...probably the majority of our
> listeners... don't
> know much about what they are hearing and two...they want
> to learn. It's
> simple to me, for jazz to find a bigger and more supportive
> audience we
> must find a way to get them to understand what it is they
> are hearing
> with the music and making them believe it is something
> worth listening
> to.
> Most programmers for years simply play the music and tell
> the listeners
> who it was they've heard and give out bits of
> historical shorts
> occasionally. This is the way most have been taught. The
> reality is this
> method of programming is not helping us build an audience.
> It's going
> nowhere fast. I'm just one that is sticking my neck out
> here and saying
> it. 
> We've all heard that we're not on air to
> "teach" the listeners. I've
> always disagreed with that assessment. I've always felt
> the mission of
> public radio was education first. To inform and most
> importantly and
> ironically, every bit of research I've conducted for
> our jazz
> programming continues to tell me that what the folks
> appreciate about my
> show the most is what they learn. It's not what or who
> I play that gets
> the most interest...it's what they learn. So why do we
> keep saying we
> shouldn't be teaching on air? 
> When I say "re-think" I'm referring to coming
> up with concepts that do
> teach listeners about the music without sacrificing the
> musical
> presentation but more enhancing it. We need more ideas here
> and unless
> we do more and more formats will disappear and our audience
> will not
> grow in my view. Methods so far in keeping an audience like
> simplifying
> the music works to a degree in helping to maintain a strong
> audience
> base but it also treats the music like a relic and
> doesn't help any
> artist doing material other than the familiar or something
> that sounds
> like such. 
> I belive we can make this situation better. If anyone else
> feels the
> same way and would like to develop or start and objective
> dialog about
> this my hat is in. 
> Jae Sinnett  
> --
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