On July 5, hundreds turned out at the "public" radio WGBH studios in Brighton to hold a funeral for the reduction of WGBH jazz programming. A second funeral, not limited to just the passing of jazz but for all passed and endangered music forms (folk and blues were killed in 2009, classical was shuffled off to an inferior carrier in 2010, and Celtic, the only remaining form, could be next) will be held Friday in conjunction with the Boston Summer Arts Weekend on Friday, July 27 in Copley Square.
11/09: WGBH cancels "Folk on WGBH" and "Blues on WGBH"
12/09: WGBH moves classical to an inferior transmitter and make it "classical lite".
7/12: WGBH fires Steve Schwartz (27 years) and relegates Eric Jackson (30 years) to weekend.
Coming soon, the cancellation of the one remaining music program,"Celtic Sojourn"?
Some history: On November 7, 2009, the notloB Music blog 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..."
On June 20 learned from Steve Schwartz' Facebook page about the termination of his show after nearly 27 years: "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:firstname.lastname@example.orgThanks for your support and keep swinging!
Also on June 20, 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.
On July 5, Ken Fields organized a "Jazz Funeral for Jazz on WGBH" - https://www.facebook.com/events/421033477939879/ - which, due to short notice and Independence Day, may not attract as many people as otherwise would wish to attend. So we're organizing another funeral, this time involving members of the folk and blues community, who did not give their programs an appropriate farewell.
Spread the word, invite your friends!
Musicians should arrive by 5:45pm. Music scores for "Just a Closer Walk with Thee", "Peace" (Eric Jackson's theme song) and "Rock of Ages" are available here. Print (extra) copies and bring to the funeral. Kudos to Ken Field for providing.