Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WGBH's March Towards "Single Format" Continues

On November 7, 2009, notloB Music raised the alert that WGBH was canceling the folk and blues programs, and predicted jazz and Celtic would follow in turn.
notloB Music: WGBH drops folk and blues programs  Nov 07, 2009
Folk music has been a mainstay on WGBH for as long as I can remember. Acoustic artists are as popular as ever and in some ways even more popular then in days gone by. I don't get it. WGBH should be ashamed of itself...

Today from Steve Schwartz' Facebook page, on the termination of his show after nearly 27 years we read...
You've heard by now: My almost 27 year run on WGBH radio is coming to an end as of September 1st. I will no long be on the radio doing a jazz show. It is a gigantic blow, not only to me but to the jazz community at large. Not only here in Boston but all around the country and the world. We have listeners on line everywhere. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of this community and I hope still be able to contribute to it in other ways.You can let WGBH Management know how you feel by writing to:phil_redo@wgbh.orgThanks for your support and keep swinging!

also today, on Eric Jackson's Facebook page we read 
Changes at WGBH are coming. My evening show is going to be eliminated. I will be on the air Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 PM until Midnight. Steve Schwartz will be let go and my position will be scaled back to part time. I am not sure if there will be any change to Bob Parlocha's show.

In 2009-2010 many of us attended community advisory committee meetings, sent letters to senior executives and the board of directors and withdrew support via volunteering and memberships. All to no avail. WGBH management's answer then was, on the advice of "industry experts" there was room in the Boston market for an all-news/talk public radio outlet (the other being WBUR) so it was going "single format" (all news and talk). It appears today WGBH management, with the support of the board of directors and the members who elect them, are holding steady by reducing jazz broadcast hours. 

What's next, the complete elimination of jazz and reduction/elimination of "A Celtic Sojourn?" That would be the logical course in keeping with the "single stream" business approach. We chose to use the word "business" as WGBH has become an operation run as a for-profit business, not a not-for-profit rooted in serving the public. Remember the public, it's the operative word of "public radio."

When WGBH management pulled the plug on folk and blues programs, Jim Kweskin provided the following quote:
"I can only assume this has something to do with the almighty dollar. Isn't this supposed to be public radio and aren't we the public. Folk music has been a mainstay on WGBH for as long as I can remember. Acoustic artists are as popular as ever and in some ways even more popular then in days gone by. I don't get it. WGBH should be ashamed of itself. Well, as Ma Joad said, "We're the people and you can't stop us and you can't lick us. We just keep coming, 'cause we're the people."
That was true on November 11, 2009 and, unfortunately, remains true today.

Captured from the WGBH website before the pages are sent down the memory hole:

Steve Schwartz | Jazz from Studio Four

Steve Schwartz  Steve Schwartz
"There's always new music to discover and old music to rediscover."

Background: Born and raised in Boston. Discovered jazz on the radio as a teenager living in southern California. That freed me from having to listen to Elvis Presley and Pat Boone anymore. I've been at WGBH for 19 years and am looking forward to many more. There's always new music to discover and old music to rediscover.
Nickname(s): The only nickname I ever had was while I was living in California during the late 1950s. Because of where I came from, my schoolmates began calling me "Boston Blackie." My grandchildren call me "Pops."
First album I ever owned: The Jazz Showcase, Introducing the Mastersounds. Bought in Los Angeles in 1959, 50 years ago. This music was just issued on CD for the first time by Fresh Sounds. It's great to hear it without all the surface noise that had accumulated on the original LP.
Five desert island albums: Duke Ellington, Piano in the Foreground (Columbia Records); Charles Mingus, Blues and Roots (Atlantic Records); Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside Records); Betty Carter, Inside Betty Carter (United Artists/Blue Note Records); The Beatles, The White Album (Capitol Records).
Favorite podcast: Real Time with Bill Maher
Greatest place to see live music: The Village Vanguard in New York City
Most memorable concert: Charles Mingus at Lennie's on the Turnpike in West Peabody, Massachusetts. Or was it John Coltrane's quartet at the Jazz Workshop on Boylston Street in Boston? Or was it...
Favorite movie about music/musician: 'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris
Favorite book about music/musician: Chet Baker: As Though I Had Wings, The Lost Memoir
When not listening to jazz, I listen to talk radio (to hear what the world at large is talking about).
Finest moment on the air: Every Friday night 8pm-midnight
Most embarrassing moment on the air: Never had one
If I weren’t a radio host, I’d be a jazz night club owner on the island of Guadaloupe. Or maybe a bicycle mechanic (which I actually was before getting involved in jazz radio full time).

Eric Jackson | Jazz with Eric in the Evening

Eric Jackson  Jazz with Eric in the Evening host Eric Jackson"Eric Jackson has been the dean of the Boston jazz scene for 25 years."
-Boston Magazine

First album I ever owned: I bought my first three records all on the same day — Chicken and Dumplings by Bobby Timmons, Soul Clinic by Hank Crawford, and Soul Message by Richard Groove Holmes.
Five desert island albums: Anything by Coltrane or Miles
Greatest place to see live music: I love outdoor festivals and concerts.
Favorite book about music/musician: The Music of Black Americans by Eileen Southern
When not listening to Jazz, I listen to Stevie Wonder, Prince
If I wasn’t a radio host, I’d be a psychiatrist.
The best part of my job is hearing lots of new music and meeting lots of people.


Jazz on WGBH with Eric Jackson

Each Monday-Thursday, 8pm-12am, and Sunday nights, 10pm-12am, the "dean of Boston jazz radio" Eric Jackson brings listeners the very best jazz on Boston radio's home of jazz, 89.7 WGBH.

Jazz from NPR

June 19, 2012 NPR · For the annual celebration of Juneteenth, today's jazz luminaries — musicians such as Jason Moran, Christian McBride, Orrin Evans, Jeremy Pelt and Bobby Watson — reflect on recordings about the ongoing process of African-American emancipation.
June 19, 2012 NPR · It's tricky making a little band sound this big, but trombonist Ray Anderson knows his tricks.
June 18, 2012 NPR · The top 20 records of the last 20 years, more money from music and the Latin Jazz Grammy returns.

Latest Comments


Two hours since Steve's posting, sentiments expressed by friends and fans to his Facebook page:

You've heard by now: My almost 27 year run on WGBH radio is coming to an end as of September 1st. I will no long be on the radio doing a jazz show. It is a gigantic blow, not only to me but to the jazz community at large. Not only here in Boston but all around the country and the world. We have listeners on line everywhere. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of this community and I hope still be able to contribute to it in other ways.
You can let WGBH Management know how you feel by writing to:
Thanks for your support and keep swinging!

    • Bobby Jackson Horrible....

    • Joel Chriss Our voice will be heard. Thank you for all you've done and I anticipate you will find other ways to contribute.

    • Jason M. Rubin Really, really sucks. Very unfair yet not the first stupid thing GBH management has done.

    • Jason M. Rubin Time for you to write a book.

    • Kristophe Diaz People should really mobilize and write to the provided adress. Eric Jackson has also posted some information and has gotten lot's of comments on his post. I think if enough people (I already did) complain or say something, they might at least think again of their choices?

    • Kim Abrams Beuttler What?! Why? What is going on with Boston radio? I will post something to protest.

    • Jim Gillis Very sorry, Steve, as a listener and a friend to hear this news. I mentioned it on my FB page.

    • Bruno Vasil Past experiences of writing to the management of WGBH have fallen on deaf ears..I will no longer support them financially...and in the words frequently heard on "Are you being served"... "and I am unanimous"...

    • Mike Shuman Will contact GBH and no dinero for them Steve. Ellie will be in town tonight and is likely to picket GBH all of July on your behalf. Could be opportune time to bring your show to a global audience on the Internet. Best thoughts to you and Connie.

    • Phil Grenadier Very upsetting Steve! Still hoping something can be done...

    • Mike Shuman I promised Phil that my contributions will go to WBUR until this decision is reversed.

    • Kevin Bresnahan This is terrible news. I will write to GBH now although if history is any indicator, I doubt it will do much good. Have they ever reversed a decision like this in the past?

    • Bob Pilkington If it sticks, we will miss your show. Don't give up, find another venue. Yeah, the Internet, less economic pressure there.

    • Bob Pilkington Is complete financial boycott the right thing to do? That could end up destroying what's left. Not sure. How about more pledges for programming to continue? Rent party?

    • Fernando Huergo That's ridiculous! It is a privilege for Boston to have you and Eric on the air! I will email Phil Redo right now!

    • Pete Malinverni Hard to believe, or maybe not. Stay strong. You've been a good and important part of the scene for a long time.

    • Peter Schwartz I like the Internet radio idea.

    • Marla Kleman Steve knows how I feel, as we spoke earlier today. I'm encouraging folks to get the word out via social media, including facebook and twitter. This is about preserving jazz, preserving the programs of two of jazz's great radio hosts and decisions like this one ultimately affect all radio stations currently featuring jazz shows...thanks. At the very least, let your feelings about this loss be known!

    • Dave Bryant Email sent!

    • Fernando Huergo Email sent as well!

    • Allan Chase This is terrible news. I enjoy your and Eric's shows many times every week and month as I have for decades. They're such an important part of the Boston area's musical culture, awareness, education, events publicity, and daily enjoyment of music. I seem to recall something similar when WBUR dropped jazz, but the claim was there was competition re: jazz with WGBH. Do we need more talk, BBC feed, etc.? There's more of that in Boston than anyone could consume, plus podcasting makes more sense for national talk than for local jazz. I do all my talk listening via podcast and all my jazz listening live.

    • Guillermo Nojechowicz An email my wife and sent to Phll Redo/Jon Abbot @ WGBH-Boston in October 2011. In the year of International Jazz Day proclaimed by the UNESCO, New England's leading jazz voice will be silenced. ---------------------------------------------------Dear Mr. Abbot and Mr. Redo,

      We are saddened to hear that this Sunday, your jazz programming will become an hour shorter. I know you are trying to survive, but in the process you are taking more and more music away from your faithful listeners.

      Jazz is a broad term. It includes all kinds of music: jazz fusion, modern jazz, be bop, cool jazz, pop jazz, and even hip hop. Rather that imitate other formats which include lots of talk shows and news, 'GBH always had a distinctive feel. Now it is turning into an imitation. You are about to kill all your originality.
      I know, it's about listeners and fundraising and all of that BUT you could have re-invented yourself by adding new and original music shows.

      All you're doing now is imitating a model that was invented long ago. And by the way, some of your "new" news programming is repetitive and does not meet the standard. Is Mediocrity what you are striving for?

      Two concerned and faithful listeners,

      Guillermo Nojechowicz
      Laurie Covens-Nojechowicz

      ----------------------------------------------- Dear Mr. Nojechowicz and Ms. Covens-Nojechowicz:

      Thank you for writing and expressing your thoughts and concerns about the recent adjustment to our Sunday night schedule.

      I can certainly understand why you are unhappy and a bit frustrated.

      Perhaps the best way for me to respond is to point out there is a finite number of hours in a week, and it forces us to make some tough decisions whenever we wish to try a new program or approach.

      As a faithful listener you must know that we are very committed to the local community and creating original local content, in all its many facets - from music to talk. One such area is the notion of "ideas" and "Innovation". This is what we are hoping to explore by expanding by an hour what has been on our schedule as Arts and Ideas from 8-10P every Sunday night. The new show is called Innovation Hub. It is locally produced and hosted, and we hope it will provide our listeners, including you, to hear from Boston area thinkers and doers.

      I realize this not what you, individually, would prefer – but I hope you can understand our honest effort to keep improvising and trying new things.

      Thanks again for writing to share your thoughts.

      Best Regards,


      Philip L. Redo
      Managing Director
      89.7 WGBH Radio

    • Yoko Miwa hoping this unpopular decision will be reversed Steve!

    • Bill Beuttler What lousy news. Hang in there, Steve.

    • Bev Getz Horrible. Email sent.

    • Sanna Craig-Vuckovich Steve - Larry and I feel something good will open for you, but what an immediate loss to WGBH and the jazz world. We've always appreciated your support of Larry's music. Blessings on you and your future projects.

    • Paris Mariano Steve!!!!!!!!!! no way man! this is terrible to hear! I'm so shocked and saddened for all of us and you--you and eric. you both have done and given so much to the collective jazz consciousness. have they no shame? i will be sending an email to this redo char-actor! he needs a re-do!

...and similar sentiments from the first three hours of friend and fan comments to Jackson's Facebook announcement: