[JPL] Sucks!

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Wed Jun 20 21:41:37 EDT 2012


Jazz programming on WGBH-FM being scaled back, a blow to local jazz fans

By Joseph P. Kahn, Globe Staff

To the consternation of loyal listeners, WGBH-FM (89.7) is dropping jazz 
programming on weeknights, moving longtime host Eric Jackson to weekend 
duties only and eliminating Steve Schwartz's Friday show.

The changes, which take effect July 2, amount to a serious downscaling 
of jazz programming on Boston radio, where Jackson and Schwartz have 
been mainstays for three decades, exposing their listeners to artists 
old and new and promoting concerts and other events that have been vital 
to the local jazz scene.

"Jazz on WGBH With Eric Jackson" will no longer run from 8 p.m. to 
midnight Monday through Thursday, airing instead from 9 p.m. to midnight 
Friday through Sunday. Schwartz's Friday evening jazz show is 
disappearing altogether, and he will no longer produce live performances 
for Jackson's show. The hosts learned of the changes Tuesday from 
station managing director Phil Redo. As of mid-afternoon, WGBH had yet 
to release a statement confirming the new programming schedule.

Jackson, who celebrated 30 years on air last spring, was told his show 
was being moved --- and cut back to nine hours weekly --- to make room 
for more news and public affairs programming. "The station has been 
moving in that direction for a couple of years," he said Wednesday. A 
month ago, he and Schwartz heard their shows would be cut one hour 
apiece, he added, but moving his show to weekend nights only was "a 
total surprise."

To the local jazz community, "this is major," Jackson said. "The music 
has always been there in the evening. To put it on the weekends at 9 
p.m., when families won't necessarily be listening together, is not the 
same thing. It's a different vibe."

Live interviews and shows featuring a single artist may no longer be 
tenable, he continued. "I still love doing radio, and Boston still needs 
jazz radio, because jazz is a major part of American culture. Not to pat 
myself on the back, but I think my show has been a major part of the 
jazz scene around here."

Schwartz, who's been on the local airwaves for nearly 27 years, said 
change was imminent a couple of years ago, when WGBH shifted its 
classical programming to another station. Then, "the other shoe 
dropped," said Schwartz as he was told that having two jazz hosts no 
longer fit with WGBH's plans.

"It wasn't a total surprise, but it is a loss," Schwartz said. "The 
station is losing a consistent format spread across the week. And the 
Boston jazz community is losing an important venue for musicians to 
promote their events."

The moves could also have a negative impact on WGBH membership, Schwartz 
added, since membership in the WGBH Jazz Club includes access to live 
concerts that will no longer be produced.

As news of the changes spread, many in the local jazz community reacted 
with shock and dismay. On Facebook, a "Save Eric in the Evening" page 
--- a reference to the show's former title --- elicited postings ranging 
from sadness to calls for a protest petition directed at WGBH.

Saxophonist Ken Field noted how well-known and popular jackson has been 
among artists from all over the area, and the world. "Reducing his 
airtime is a step in the wrong direction, for people in Boston and 
people outside Boston," he said. "Eric has been so supportive of not 
only international musicians who come to town but also local jazz 
musicians."

A lot of people he knows are angered by the news, Field added, and 
wondering why they should continue to support WGBH if it drops shows 
such as these.

"That's some tragic news," commented pianist Danilo Perez, reached by 
phone in Colorado Wednesday afternoon. "In a culture where we are so 
much in need of hope and optimism, that's what jazz is all about. As 
long as people listen to radio, it's crucial to have jazz [featured] there."

Beyond that, said Perez, "People like Eric and Steve love and know the 
music. To a listener like myself, it's almost like having a History of 
Jazz class on the radio."
Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at jkahn at globe.com.

-- 
Dr. Jazz
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Oak Park, MI  48237
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