[JPL] Len Dobbin

Steve Schwartz steve_schwartz at wgbh.org
Sun Jul 12 08:04:26 EDT 2009


It was last Sunday, July 5th, as I was listening to "Dobbin's Den" on-line from CKUT 
on my computer in Boston. I forget the exact number that Len announced but he welcomed 
everyone to his show each week by telling us what edition of the show it was. 
It was number 1,700+. He had done over 1,700 broadcasts of "Dobbin's Den"! 
That figures out to over 32 years! Does anyone know when Len began broadcasting?

I heard Len preface his playing of some Helen Merrill that she was going to be in Montreal
 the next weekend, during The Festival, at The Upstairs.
I immediately called Len to get more details. 
I've loved Helen' s work for years, did a radio birthday feature on her a couple of years ago, 
somehow got a copy of the show to her and she responded with a nice note and a phone 
call of appreciation. Her gig in Montreal would be the first time I would get to meet her in person.

Len and I talked for a while last Sunday. We made plans to meet at the Upstairs on 
Saturday night. That would have been last night! He told me he would be there for 
Helen's 8:45 set. We chatted on the phone for awhile and before we hung up Len told 
me how nice it was to hear my voice again. We met a couple of times before, 
under similar circumstances, in Montreal during Festival but hadn't spoken in a while.
"See you on Saturday" we said.

I called The Upstairs right after we hung up. John, the owner, answered the phone. 
I told him I had just heard Len play and talk about Helen's gig and could I make a 
reservation for the second show on Saturday. "No problem. Would you and Len like to sit together?"
I think it was last Monday when my phone rang. It was John calling to tell me that Helen had 
come down with some flu like symptoms and was advised not to travel and her gig was being 
cancelled. I was very sorry to get that news but thought Len and I would get together 
somewhere else. Our plan was for us to call each other when I got to Montreal. 

When my phone rang in my Montreal hotel room on Thursday I thought it might be Len. 
It was, instead, my friend and fellow jazz host Tom Reney (WFCR) to break the sad news to me.

Rest in peace, Len!

Steve Schwartz



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