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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WGBH Decimates Its Jazz Programming

WGBH is now taking an active role in moving jazz onto smaller and smaller radio signals. Steve Schwartz's Friday show is going off the air and Eric Jackson's weekday show is gone. The story is hereThere is a fabric that constitutes the Boston-area jazz community and these shows, especially Jackson's daily show, were an important part of it. This is a bad blow for the local jazz community. 

Problem is, the effects of radio programming all have to be "quantified" into numbers and demographics. I had the same problem years ago, when I was a producer for a show called "Ready-To-go, a mostly live children's show on WNEV (now WHDH) TV Channel 7. The audience was there, but relatively expensive production (i.e., local, non syndicated) and an undesirable advertising demographic meant this well-loved show was axed.

Obviously, WGBH is pursuing a long-term goal of grabbing audience share from WBUR, which has had a lock on the local upscale-NPR news/public affairs audience for a long time. Taking this kind of action, for bottom line reasons (and what other reason could there be?) is ok, if you don't mind the acrid whiff of Bain Capital and Mitt Romney. 

There will be pushback. It remains to be seen if a critical mass of music partisans can have any influence on a local media outlet whose mission, over the last couple of years, has grown foggier and foggier.


Peter H. said...

Eric Jackson and Steve Schwartz and their shows are irreplaceable cultural resources for the jazz world and New England. Some of my favorite moments have come sitting in the car, listening to Eric do a live interview with artists like Milt Jackson or Freddie Cole, as one of those greats passes through Boston on tour. Tuning in to Eric in the Evening is my default behavior on weekday evenings. Listening to Marketplace or Morning Edition is not. We could all see this coming when WGBH pushed the starting time of evening jazz from 7pm to 8pm, and called it an enhancement. Now GBH are eliminating weekday jazz, eliminating Steve Schwartz’s show and moving Eric onto the weekends. It is nice of Eric to cooperate with the move, but I guess we jazz fans will take whatever crumbs are left for us on the table. And in WGBH's infinite market-driven wisdom, as they chest-bump with WBUR over who has the most NPR spoken-word news programs, WGBH’s differentiating role as a nurturer and transmitter of the expressive arts falls by the wayside.

Maury Martin said...

I've let them know I will not be renewing my decades-long membership. It's bad enough that they are badly truncating their jazz programming in an ill-judged attempt to woo WBUR's NPR talk radio audience, but to call it a "refocusing" is truly lame.

russell said...

i've been a GBH member since '92. if Eric and Schwartz go, i go.

seriously, does the world need another hour of Marketplace?

this is very, very sad.

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