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The Demise of KCSM

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San Mateo-based jazz station plans benefit concert

By Sean Maher

San Mateo County Times

KCSM-FM, the only remaining all-jazz radio station in the Bay Area, is

banking on a one-time-only benefit concert to keep the station from

going silent.

On June 30, Yoshi's in Oakland will host a trio of solo pianists

spanning three generations of Bay Area jazz piano playing to support the

financially struggling station.

"We're one of the very few, one of the last remaining all-jazz stations

in the country, in the world," said program director Melanie Berzon, who

lamented the recent format change from soft jazz to classic rock at

KKSF-FM. "They're dropping like flies. We're losing jazz stations and

jazz formats hand over fist.''

KCSM (91.1 FM), licensed to the San Mateo County Community College

District, has received the bulk of its funding from listeners for years,

Berzon said. But a 12 percent chunk of its operating budget expected

from the school district fell through this year when the district, which

is funded by the state, experienced deep cuts, she said.

The station's recent pledge drive drew more donations and more cash than

ever, but the station is still trying to bridge a $40,000 gap by June

30, when its fiscal year ends and the school has to decide whether to

keep the station running, Berzon said.

Three local pianists hope to help. Denny Zeitlin, Jon Jang and Taylor

Eigsti, each known as an inventive and fascinating musician, will take

the stage at Yoshi's to benefit the station.

"It's kind of a one-time summit, and that's really the appeal to it,"

said Chuy Varela, the event's organizer and music director for the

station. "When you think about the tradition of Bay Area jazz piano, you

think of Dave Brubeck, Vince Guaraldi, the many others who have been

there. These guys have carried the torch from there."

"Denny is kind of the old-schooler, and he's getting a lot of respect

right now for all he's done, all his early work for Columbia," Varela

said. "He's also a practicing psychiatrist; he's also written scores for

'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' and other movies. He's quite an innovator."

Jang, who grew up locally and worked with renowned drummer Max Roach,

"has been really instrumental in the Asian-American jazz movement,"

Varela said. "For him to do solo piano like this really takes away the

bridles, if you will. He'll be able to move around freely."

The young buck of the ticket is Eigsti, who in the past three years has

become one of the major pianists emerging in the U.S., Varela said.

"You get these three pianists, all very much stylists, individuals who

all have something to say, and they're going to say it in a warm and

intimate room in a solo piano concert," Varela said. "We're not using

any amplification. The room is such a beautiful sounding room, this will

just allow it to breathe and have this organic presentation to it."

Tickets will run $50 each, and if both performances sell out, the

station should be safe, Varela said.

"People want to help, and part of it is that there are folks that are

hurting, and there are folks that are not hurting, but they're being

more cautious," he said. "Maybe they see this as a worthy cause and one

they have a feeling for, that it will help make this a success."

General manager Marilyn Lawrence said the situation is even more serious

at KCSM's television station, and layoffs have been announced. On June

24, she said, she will make a presentation to the board of trustees for

the station, at which time she expects they will decide whether to keep

both stations or sell one or both.

"In hard times, the first thing to go is culture," Berzon said. "I

understand that; we all need to eat, put roofs over our heads, feed our

families. But culture, whether it's music, art, literature, it gets us

through difficult times and feeds us in a way I personally think is

necessary."

KCSM-FM broadcasts at 91.1 and can be streamed online for free at

www.kcsm.org. For more information about the event or to donate to the

station, visit the Web site or call 800-477-5276.

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Certainly deserving of support!

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KCSM has consistent great programs included in their 24/7 jazz programing.

It will be another big loss for the music if this happens.

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For me, KCSM is no better than a mixed bag. Maybe three decent deejays and at the other extreme, Alisa Clancy. Ugh. So, when I visit the Bay Area, the radio's off.

Still I hate to see jazz (or 'jazz') radio die in the States.

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For me, KCSM is no better than a mixed bag. Maybe three decent deejays and at the other extreme, Alisa Clancy. Ugh. So, when I visit the Bay Area, the radio's off.

Still I hate to see jazz (or 'jazz') radio die in the States.

I must disagree. Alisa Clancy is one of the best jazz DJ's I've heard. She's knowledgeable, articulate, fun and inspiring. She's the heart and soul of KCSM.

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I don't meant to be too harsh. She is knowledgeable. And sincere. Her choice of music simply doesn't appeal to me. And her voice and verbal mannerisms.

If Michael Berman was the "heart and soul" of KCSM, I'd be more inclined to listen.

I understand that they're still doing the All Out show. Frankly, I wasn't aware; it's not on at a time when I can listen. But I'll give 'em eleventeen points for that.

Last weeks' playlist:

6/4/2009 | 10:00:00 PM | | JASON MORAN | ANOTHER ONE | FACING LEFT | BLUE NOTE |

6/4/2009 | 10:05:00 PM | | TARBABY (FEAT. TC III) | BEING IN NOTHINGNESS | TARBABY | IMANI |

6/4/2009 | 10:08:00 PM | | HENRY GRIMES TRIO | FISH STORY | THE CALL | ESP-DISK |

6/4/2009 | 10:13:00 PM | | OSCAR NORIEGA'S PLAY PARTY | 7 OF 9 | LUCIANO'S DREAM | OMNI TONE |

6/4/2009 | 10:21:00 PM | | ABRAHAM BURTON | CLOSEST TO THE SUN | CLOSEST TO THE SUN | ENJA |

6/4/2009 | 10:31:00 PM | | TOK | DREAMS | TOK - LIVE | |

6/4/2009 | 10:38:00 PM | | REUT REGEV | NUTCASE SCENARIO | THIS IS R TIME | ROPEADOPE |

6/4/2009 | 10:44:00 PM | | WILLIAM PARKER W/ LEENA CONQUEST & AMIRI BARAKA | PEOPLE GET READY | THE INSIDE SONGS OF CURTIS MAYFIELD | TRAACE |

6/4/2009 | 10:59:00 PM | | DRED SCOTT TRIO | THREE LEGGED DANCE | LIVE AT THE ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL | |

6/4/2009 | 11:07:00 PM | | ALBERT AYLER | SPIRITS | THE HILVERSUM SESSION | ESP-DISK |

6/4/2009 | 11:16:00 PM | | GIL SCOTT-HERON | MORNING THOUGHTS | REFLECTIONS | ARISTA |

6/4/2009 | 11:20:00 PM | | CECIL TAYLOR | WITH (EXIT) | CONQUISTIDOR! | BLUE NOTE |

6/4/2009 | 11:41:00 PM | | MAT MARUCCI | TAKE 5 | NO LESSER EVIL | CADENCE |

6/4/2009 | 11:52:00 PM | | ANDREW HILL | TIME LINES

But HepCat, if you dig Alisa or anything else on KCSM, right on and enjoy. It's still fine music.

Edited by BeBop

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Sonny Buxton is one of the treasures of KCSM.

Not only great music, but great stories and insight.

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Sonny Buxton is one of the treasures of KCSM.

Not only great music, but great stories and insight.

Agree. I'd actually drafted my post with Buxton alongside Michael Berman, but the last few times I've listened to Sonny Buxton, he (or I) seemed a bit "off". Didn't really "click". Perhaps next time.

Apparently Ron Pelletier and John Rogers still broadcast, though I haven't heard them lately. Dick Conte too.

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Ron just posted a playlist to the Jazz Programmer Listserv for a 3-6 p.m. shift today, so apparently he's still on the air. Sounds like KCSM got thwacked by some of the same state-related cuts that have hit us.

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I'm going to send them some $$ this week.

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Sonny Buxton is one of the treasures of KCSM.

Not only great music, but great stories and insight.

Damn straight.

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I must disagree. Alisa Clancy is one of the best jazz DJ's I've heard. She's knowledgeable, articulate, fun and inspiring. She's the heart and soul of KCSM.

I agree with you completely, HepCat. Clancy is probably my favorite jazz DJ.

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Perhaps it's karma, after I said a few not-too-nice things about KCSM that I should end up yesterday morn in the Bay Area. So I decided to give them another listen.

I'll say "it's just me", but twenty minutes into Alisa Clancy's program, I was about ready to commit suicide. A whole string of novelty vocals - some by legit singers, I suppose, but... And the too-cute chuckle-filled interludes...

The Bob Parlocha broadcast is what it is. I'd credit KCSM with not putting in a bunch of station program advertising filler, e.g., KUVO Denver, and cutting off the credits. In fact, I really appreciate the fact that KCSM gives more than the leader name and CD title. Yeah, I care who the bassist was.

Keith Hines was okay. I know they're trying to raise money, so I forgive the constant pleas. He played some fine stuff.

Melanie Berzon, well, if I don't like Alisa Clancy...

Kathleen Lawton's blues program was listenable too; too 'safe' and too many vocals for me (but that's characteristic of the blues, eh?)

Sonny Buxton comes on in a few minutes, but I've got a plane to catch.

Bottom line: every six months or so, I pick a public radio station and make a pledge. (I don't have a home, so I'm not a regular anywhere.) I may not love it, but I think I'll kick in on the save-KCSM thing. I was glad to have something to listen too...and gripe about.

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I'm with BeBop. Alisa Clancy seems like a very nice person, and dedicated, but she has an almost obnoxious on-air personality. I think she tries too hard, tries to sound too hip, too funny, and when she does interviews, she's almost always too alpha, too presumptuous, too often trying to put words in people's mouths. Bottom line, though, (and this goes for Melanie Berzon as well) she has pretty weak taste and an odd sense of what belongs on a jazz show.

Sonny Buxton's show is always excellent, although he too laughs at his own jokes a little too much. Keith Hines is good, Dick Conte is okay, Michael Berman has good taste and an even, low-key delivery that I like. I haven't really heard much of Parlocha or John Rogers since the KJAZ days. At any rate, my favorite show has always been Jane Sanchez hosting the Jazz Oasis. Uniformly fantastic show. Unfortunately, it's not often I'm listening to the radio at that time of the evening.

Kathleen Lawton's blues show is pretty bad, imo. Too much "bad to the bone" style wannabe blues bands, not enough jazz or R&B-tinged classic stuff, rarely hips me to anything I've missed (or even reminds me of anything I've forgotten). Some of the blues shows on KKUP and KUSP make Kathleen Lawton look absolutely silly. I wonder if Tom Mazzolini is still doing his show on KPFA... haven't tuned him in for a long time.

For the most part, I stopped listening to KCSM regularly about 8 to 10 years ago. It seemed like every time I turned it on during the day, they were playing some ultra-bland, zero personality female vocalist who had no business having a recording contract. I also OD'd on Chuy Varela, I think.

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One would hope that jazz fans would come through with donations and buy tickets to this interesting concert, if KCSM only needs $40,000.

I wonder about Chuy Vadela's knowledge of jazz or the reporter's quotes of him. Zeitlin has not scored the soundtracks to any other films besides "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (I've interviewed Zeitlin several times, so it would have turned up), while I don't think "He's kind of an old-schooler" is an appropriate way to describe Zeitlin's music.

Every publicly funded university's radio station is potentially in danger, as academics demand that "non-essential" departments take major cuts, while football (even when the team struggles to win games, achieve any meaningful attendance and runs a huge deficit) is untouchable at most universities and colleges due to outspoken alumni.

Edited by Ken Dryden

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I'm not a fan of all the personalities on KCSM, but it's so unusual to have a non-commercial radio station that plays jazz (or some semblance of it) 24/7 that I really appreciate its existence.

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I'm not a fan of all the personalities on KCSM, but it's so unusual to have a non-commercial radio station that plays jazz (or some semblance of it) 24/7 that I really appreciate its existence.

Actually, I'm surprised how many 24/7 or nearly 24/7 jazz stations I come across. That said, many don't even meet the KCSM standard.

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I'm not a fan of all the personalities on KCSM, but it's so unusual to have a non-commercial radio station that plays jazz (or some semblance of it) 24/7 that I really appreciate its existence.

Actually, I'm surprised how many 24/7 or nearly 24/7 jazz stations I come across. That said, many don't even meet the KCSM standard.

Non-commercial, too?

Really?

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I'm with BeBop. Alisa Clancy seems like a very nice person, and dedicated, but she has an almost obnoxious on-air personality. I think she tries too hard, tries to sound too hip, too funny, and when she does interviews, she's almost always too alpha, too presumptuous, too often trying to put words in people's mouths. Bottom line, though, (and this goes for Melanie Berzon as well) she has pretty weak taste and an odd sense of what belongs on a jazz show.

Sonny Buxton's show is always excellent, although he too laughs at his own jokes a little too much. Keith Hines is good, Dick Conte is okay, Michael Berman has good taste and an even, low-key delivery that I like. I haven't really heard much of Parlocha or John Rogers since the KJAZ days. At any rate, my favorite show has always been Jane Sanchez hosting the Jazz Oasis. Uniformly fantastic show. Unfortunately, it's not often I'm listening to the radio at that time of the evening.

Hmm. I like Clancy simply because she plays stuff I haven't heard. Kines, Berzon, and Sanchez always seem to play stuff I'm already familiar with. Not necessarily a bad thing; someone has to play Time Out, but I've heard it enough. Buxton I consider overrated, though even overrated he's pretty damned good, and Berman I like, for the same reasons you mention. Conte, as you say, is okay, though a little goes a long way with me.

However, in all honesty, I have to admit that I haven't listened to KCSM all that much since I left the Bay Area. Radio has become a "forgotten media" for me, I'm afraid.

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I'm not a fan of all the personalities on KCSM, but it's so unusual to have a non-commercial radio station that plays jazz (or some semblance of it) 24/7 that I really appreciate its existence.

Same here. I would hate to see it go.

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I'm not a fan of all the personalities on KCSM, but it's so unusual to have a non-commercial radio station that plays jazz (or some semblance of it) 24/7 that I really appreciate its existence.

Same here. I would hate to see it go.

Guys, I have to weigh in here there's a lot of flotsom drifting around on this blog...

Fact: KCSM is the ONLY 24/7 jazz station on terrestrial radio in the US. You may hear jazz on Kuvo, Kjzz, wbgo, and others but they also do traffic reports, npr news breaks, other music and arts programming--

Fact: Aside from Parlocha's show, which we gather from the satellite and run after hours, there are real live hot bodies pulling music and putting a show together for you for a particular day-part (that means that morning and afternoon commute, jazz oasis, blues, latin jazz, etc. are scheduled with particular ears in mind--spanning the whole of jazz)

Fact: KCSM played over 34,000 individual sides last year alone--we are not pre-programmed or cookie-cutter stuff it's done the old-fashioned way...gee, with a little forethought and passion! what a concept, rather offensive radio don't you think?

Fact: We have a duel mission, "To present the very best in jazz music" and "Informal Education' on jazz and it's related history-that's why you hear those scratchy old records of louis' hot 5's & 7's and red norvo, and teddy wilson and billie holiday, and all--IT'S IMPORTANT MUSIC and an invaluable history to pass on...

And, with regard to the press were getting about dissolving--not gonna happen. We are having a fundraiser and a lot of pitching for $$ to make up the shortfall from the Spring drive. KCSM TV and Radio were asked by our Community College District to cut a million bucks and were doing that. We have the overwhelming support of our college board and the community-- It's inspiring!

and just a final note about the morning programming--i can't do anything about the "giggle" fest uber alpha(somebody called) way that I am or talk (a bit sexist i thought when I read it, but that's just me) --but I invite you to the music, you WILL find something interesting, unique, laughable, cryable, provocative, crazy or beautiful. and please, don't dis me if you don't know me, i wouldn't do that to you... :excited:

Alisa Clancy @ KCSM www.kcsm.org P.S. yes, Ron Pelletier is on the air every Wed night 10pm-2am

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Welcome, Alisa--hope you stick around (both here and on the air).

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Welcome, Alisa--hope you stick around (both here and on the air).

Thanks red Menace...will do,

swing on

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Guys, I have to weigh in here there's a lot of flotsom drifting around on this blog...

Fact: KCSM is the ONLY 24/7 jazz station on terrestrial radio in the US. You may hear jazz on Kuvo, Kjzz, wbgo, and others but they also do traffic reports, npr news breaks, other music and arts programming--

Fact: Aside from Parlocha's show, which we gather from the satellite and run after hours, there are real live hot bodies pulling music and putting a show together for you for a particular day-part (that means that morning and afternoon commute, jazz oasis, blues, latin jazz, etc. are scheduled with particular ears in mind--spanning the whole of jazz)

And, with regard to the press were getting about dissolving--not gonna happen.

PLEASE TAKE ALL OF THIS AS LIGHT-HEARTED. That's how it's intended, though the language doesn't always convey.

I won't debate Facts, but I'll add a bit of clarification on my perspective. True, KUVO, KKJZ, WBGO and others do have some non-jazz programming. KCSM has a blues program. Sure, its a close kin... I can't say KKJZ's non-jazz material bothers me much, though KUVO's constant station promos...ouch. KEWU isn't 24 hours, nor is KNTU, WDNA, KPLU, KBCS, WIFU, but I'm glad to have them too.

The "Aside from Parlocha's show" implies that this is the only syndicated/purchased programming. But, when last I checked, KCSM was also airing Jazz From Lincoln Center, Jazz Set, Piano Jazz, Jazz Profiles, and Big Band Jump. (What's up with the MC's voice on this last program?)

My comments about your presentation and selection of music, Ms. Clancy, were NOT intended to be personal, except, I suppose, personal to me and my tastes. Frankly, I don't find vocals - jazz or otherwise - appealing. That doesn't mean that they should "go away", but sometimes I need to.

Ms. Clancy has been on the air for a good, long while (especially for a 29-year old ;) - take that as a comment about her enthusiasm). And, if I recall correctly (questionable), she was a College of San Mateo instructor for one of my old jazz history classes. I wish her and KCSM well. And I say sincerely: check her out.

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Thanks for chiming in, Alisa. As I said earlier, your brand of programming is rare............or possibly unique in broadcast radio. Keep it coming.

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