ghost of miles

WAMU has canceled Rob Bamberger's "Hot Jazz Saturday Night"

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WAMU cancels "Hot Jazz Saturday Night"

 

John Hasse has started an online petition to save the program that's already garnered more than 6,300 signatures.  I signed it, though I'm pessimistic that anything will cause WAMU to reverse their decision.  As someone who works in radio, I can tell you that Saturday evening is not exactly prime real estate, so the fact that they're ditching a long-running program with a widespread and passionate following (that also evidently does quite well during fund-drive) in favor of more news/talk and a one-hour variety program does not even make pragmatic sense to me.  

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This is why I've given up supporting public radio. It's all about talk, politics, news, and pap these days.

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Bad news.  A real shame.  Dismissing it as "a legacy program" does it a real disservice.

Sounds like what happened with NPR stations in the Boston area several years ago.  Now we have two largely talk and news NPR stations.  

Some of us soldier on at the college/community station level where we're rather more insulated from radio consultants, ratings, and any pressure to "better reflect a news-and-information format."

Sigh.

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1 hour ago, jazztrain said:

Bad news.  A real shame.  Dismissing it as "a legacy program" does it a real disservice.

Sounds like what happened with NPR stations in the Boston area several years ago.  Now we have two largely talk and news NPR stations.  

Some of us soldier on at the college/community station level where we're rather more insulated from radio consultants, ratings, and any pressure to "better reflect a news-and-information format."

Sigh.

Yes, "radio consultants and ratings" have come to play far too prominent a role in public radio.  I'm not averse to attempting to reflect what a majority of the audience wants for overall content, but to ditch a popular jazz-specialty show when the overwhelmingly vast amount of programming on the station is already news/talk is appalling.  It's less and less public radio and more commercial-radio-for-'smart'-people.  This isn't the case at every station, but it's definitely the prevailing attitude and has been for some time now.  It's one thing to move jazz out of day-parts and heavily-listened-to hours, another thing to eradicate it altogether.  

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This is why you want to absorb all the music in the world, so you have it at your disposal when nobody is left to hand it to you.

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Having spent a good part of my career in public radio, I understand management thinking but don't agree with it. No matter what you put on a Saturday or Sunday night to replace a jazz program, it will likely draw no more listeners, raise fewer dollars and cost you more to produce, unless you are airing repeats of earlier broadcasts or switch to overnight automated satellite programming. My old station automated the weekends, though there are still a handful of local shows airing. I don't count on them being around much longer given the job description for the new manager they were seeking. He has only been in place a week or two.

Glad I retired and got out of that political mess. Any time the university licensee starts to dictate programming, they foul it up...and that's not the word I would use offline.

 

 

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17 hours ago, ghost of miles said:

WAMU cancels "Hot Jazz Saturday Night"

 

John Hasse has started an online petition to save the program that's already garnered more than 6,300 signatures.  I signed it, though I'm pessimistic that anything will cause WAMU to reverse their decision.  As someone who works in radio, I can tell you that Saturday evening is not exactly prime real estate, so the fact that they're ditching a long-running program with a widespread and passionate following (that also evidently does quite well during fund-drive) in favor of more news/talk and a one-hour variety program does not even make pragmatic sense to me.  

WAMU has had a long history of initiating outstanding programs, then after many years and successful fundraising campaigns, suddenly deleting them.  I stopped supporting them over twenty years ago.  DC is a news and talk junkie town; unfortunately, this program and the jazz and latin and world music programs from a Pacifica station WPFW, are either being cancelled or moved to the graveyard shifts.  While people can always stream in the offices and cars, I miss the concept of individually curated music radio programs -- this is how we get to listen to new music.  Not any more.  Now I have to dig and search for it.  

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For about eight years In the late 80's and early 90's I did a four hour show once a week on KMHD in Gresham, Oregon.  At that time, It was an all-jazz station affiliated with Mount Hood Community College.  Its uniqueness was derived from the diverse taste of the (pardon the expression) on-air personalities.  In the course of a normal week, you would hear everything from Pete Fountain to Ornette Coleman and everything in between....what we called, "the full spectrum of jazz."  Then for no reason that was ever adequately explained, the station brought in a consultant whose mantra was homogenized sound, i.e. when listeners tuned in, they wanted to hear the same kind of music regardless of the day or the time.   From my perspective, management was too dumb to know how good they had it.  From management's perspective, continuity would ensure greater local market penetration and, most importantly, more contributions during our thrice-annual fund raisers.  The end for me came when the station manager gave me an ultimatum...play more Bob James and less Blue Note.  I lasted one more week, called it a day and never looked back.  While KMHD remains on the air to this day as an affiliate of Oregon Public Broadcasting, this was, IMO, the beginning of the end.  Today, you wouldn't even recognize it.  You'd need to suspend reality to call it a jazz station.    

The moral of the story and what drives public radio decision making?  Where you stand depends on where you sit.      

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My sympathies to the programmer and listeners.  Jazz has a very tenuous status in broadcasting.  I've had the good fortune to play jazz on the radio for about 34 of the last 49 years, all at smaller (non-NPR) non-commercial stations.  KBCS, where I now volunteer, is owned by a public college and financed mostly by listener donations.  Twenty years ago KBCS carried about 35 hours a week of jazz, including several specialty programs like early 20th century jazz.  Now it's down to about six hours a week.  (Folk music has suffered a similar decline.)  I was lucky to keep my show because it is on late on a weekday evening, a time slot that so far the station management hasn't wanted to tamper with.

There are still, of course, radio stations that play a lot of jazz, but it seems most of them are very limited in their programming choices, concentrating on familiar mainstream artists, standards, and jazzy blues.  I'm just very thankful that I can still play jazz on the radio, play whatever I want, and hopefully turn people on to good music they've never heard before -- even though the audience is small.  I never can tell when my luck may run out.

 

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