Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Message from the President: The Future of Jazz Radio effects the Future of Live Jazz Music.

By Doug Ruffin
Boston Music Coalition

I have been a friend with the folks at JazzBoston for some time now. So when the call was made to attend a gathering outside of the WGBH studios in Boston because of a programming change that canceled weeknight Jazz programming after many years of sustaining ratings and contributions from listeners, I knew I had to attend. In a large radio market like Boston, Radio formats are likely to change. ‘FNX flipped to a “Jack” format, ‘ODS flipped to the Amp (dance / Pop) format. The change at ‘GBH Radio is not a format change but instead, a cultural change. And they did it with “our” money! Weeknight Jazz programming is relegated to limited hours on weekend nights in favor of a News / Talk format. The market already has News / Talk at WBUR, WRKO  WTTK not to mention WBZ All news during the day and talk at night. So ‘GBH cried poverty, changed culture and went out to purchase PRI. No, Not channel 10 in Providence; bigger! (Public Radio International). You’ve got to be kidding!

Music formats have a direct effect on live music in any market. Want to know if Lady GaGa is coming to town? Kiss 108 is here to tell you. Want to know when that rock or alternative band is hitting the stage? ‘AAF is here to tell you. And when you want to know about live Jazz performances, Jazz greats, Local Jazz artists and jazz history? Sorry Bud! You’re out of luck. ‘GBH doesn’t want to play anymore. Remember that local donation you made to ‘GBH to keep local programming going? It was used to purchase PRI.

JazzBoston Stepped up to the plate and invited the public, musicians, radio professionals and educators to an open community meeting Tuesday night at the Boston Public Library where anyone can share positive ideas to help Jazz music survive on traditional radio as well as alternative media. Without Jazz media, fans cannot get current information on Jazz artists, local jazz performers or where Live Jazz music is being performed in greater Boston. Jazz is rich in history and culture and announcers like Eric Jackson bring that history to life so that any 15 year old can appreciate something a little bit more than Lady Gaga.

The well attended community meeting was moderated by JazzBoston Board Members’ Jose Masso and Emmett Price.  Everyone who wanted to speak got the chance to do so. Attendees came prepared with short statements and questions that stayed on topic without a single drifting speech or long over the top commentary. WICN in Worcester was in attendance. That opened the idea to get “repeaters or “Feed” to a Boston area station so Jazz can be heard on the radio again from Worcester to Boston. Many New media ideas were expressed and with a proactive follow up commitment from JazzBoston and the attendees to participate in committees, Jazz could be back on the air. Live Jazz Music will sustain and grow throughout greater Boston. But the follow up has to be just as energetic as the community meeting was on Tuesday. If not, a vital part of music culture will die.


Take Action! Get Involved! Find out How You Can Help! Send Questions and Suggestions Regarding the Future of Jazz Radio in Boston to:


WICN Radio Worcester:

WGBH Radio Boston:

Scullers Jazz Club:


MAJE (Massachusetts Association for Jazz Educators)

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