To say that jazz radio stations are few and far between in America is an understatement. In the past 10 years alone, many large markets have been left without a single station to broadcast America’s original musical art form over the airways.
In fact, cities that have key ties to the development and evolution of the music are left without a single station to tune into for this cultural treasure…. Chicago is one glaring example of this, as its NPR station eliminated its overnight jazz segment 6 years ago. Now, the Washington, D.C. area is holding its collective breath as its “Jazz and Justice” station undergoes major management and programming changes of its own.
While our nation’s capital regularly presents some of the genre’s most talented and groundbreaking musicians–most notably Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition–there is no reliable local broadcast medium to share this amazing music to the region.
Will the ‘jazz’ part be the sacrificial musical lamb in favor of something with broader commercial appeal?
That remains to be seen. Two notable stations that have defied the odds, so far are WBGO-FM in the Newark, N.J./New York City area and KCSM-FM in the San Francisco Bay Area. While those NPR affiliates allot some time for news and public interest programs geared to their respective local markets, the overwhelming majority of their airtime is allotted to broadcasting jazz music.
For the remainder of the jazzophytes throughout the nation, we are resigned to our computers, tablets, and smartphones. How exactly did we get to this point?
Jazz artists are certainly still emerging and performing at a high level. Even the younger generation of music fans dig the music when they hear it.
But how do we reach more of them and turn them into lifelong listeners with the rapid demise of one station after another?