Top 50 JAzz Blog

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Boston Jazz Radio Consortium?

The college radio stations I listed in my last post would have to be approached in different ways. Some are tightly formatted, fully scheduled and already have some jazz. 

For the stations with some or no jazz but with time on the schedule, jazz DJ's (who seem plentiful among our ranks) could be recruited to take those slots. 

It will be challenging to try to place shows such that jazz will be available somewhere on the Boston dial 24-7, but that should be a goal. I do think WHRB programmers should be asked whether they would consider moving their long jazz block to a time that is more propitious for the jazz audience.

All these stations would be asked to affiliate with some kind of jazz radio consortium. 

I doubt any content coordination among these shows is possible although if someone does an interview with a musician, promoter, etc., they could make it available as an upload for another DJ in the consortium to play during his or her show. 

In any case, stations would be agreeing that their jazz shows would have a dual identification-affiliated with a particular station and also with the consortium. On-air ID's would say something like "You're listening to Crepuscule Jazz on wwww, 80.1 FM, Brighton, Mass, an affiliated member of the Boston Jazz Radio Consortium (or something with a better acronym)." 

Other publicity, like print ads, stickers, etc, would be able to list these shows and DJ's would be encouraged to cross-promote programs. 

Or words to that effect.


rob chalfen said...

the likely problem with swapping slots is that it takes 2 to tango (or so I've heard); the jazz bloc may be willing to move to nights, but they'll likely never be able to displace the rockers.

Steve Provizer said...

Yea, it's thorny. Like a jigsaw puzzle with each piece booby-trapped.

Larry Cronin said...

There was a previous comment on one of the Facebook groups that Jazz is evening music/needs to be on in the evening. I partially agree with that, but it comes down to play lists in the end. The evening segment could be viewed as a prize in the same sense that drive time usually goes to the top rock announcer. Maybe WUMB or WERS for that matter would consider altering their format if they knew it could make them the "new" WGBH with the accompanying listener share in that time slot. But it seems the evening show still needs to go to the station with the best signal.

Steve Provizer said...

Larry-Thanks for your comment. WERS gets big numbers from its current evening programming. As far as WUMB, jazz is way out of its usual format.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say: "it seems the evening show still needs to go to the station with the best signal." Please explain.

Steve Provizer said...

Yea, I know about signal-but what do you mean by "the evening show"? jazz? Highest ratings?

Larry Cronin said...

Everybody comes in clear on the internet, but it's still the quality of the terrestrial signal that counts. When I look at what's available,WERS and WUMB come in the best in my location(JP). I can pick up WHRB reasonably, but not as well. WMBR, WRBB, WZBC,and WBRS do not come in well at all- (and that's with an antenna and Sangean HD Radio locking in with all digital connections--I was an early adopter, specifically keeping Eric in mind).
So if we're going around the clock, then the evening block-probably the most important one with the highest potential audience-should be scheduled at the station with the best delivery capacity. We've gotten pretty spoiled listening to WGBH's 100,000 watts, and trying to listen to jazz subtleties with static can be frustrating.The more of the Metropolitan Statistical Area covered well, the better.

The thought occurs to me of trying to create a network of such stations to simulcast a syndicated show.


Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that evening is the only time Jazz. For many years Tony Cennamo's morning show on WBUR was a wonderful contribution to the community...

Steve Provizer said...

There are a lot of things to juggle, including coverage, but as you say, replacing 100,000w won't be possible. I see there are still people who want to put effort into trying to convince GBH to respond which, as I've said, I think is a dead end.

The best thing we can do is try to create an alternative structure of some kind that serves the jazz audience as well as possible. This process may also have positive ramifications for fans of other kinds of music that are hard to find on the dial.

Anonymous, I agree with you that the morning can be a good time for jazz; just not so early as WHRB starts jazz-5 AM. If it was tweaked a little bit, it would be that much better.

paulineb said...

Steve, I personally love this concept, with all its challenges. It is the kind of collaborative, community-based effort JazzBoston was formed to encourage and coordinate. It goes to the heart of our mission to connect, support, and promote the entire Greater Boston jazz scene. Jazz Week is an example. The decision to revive it came from our first jazz community open meeting, held 3 months after we were incorporated in January 2006. The first 21st century Jazz Week took place in April 2007, and participation has grown every year since then to 250 events at 120 venues in and around the city this past spring. — Back to the present. I hope you are planning to present your concept on the 31st. In the expectation that school radio stations would be part of the "solution" in one way or another, we are trying to get representatives of as many of those stations as possible to attend the meeting. (We have created a spread sheet of all the school stations in the Greater Boston area showing their reach, type of programming, and contact information.) If you are doing the same thing, let's coordinate our efforts.

Fred Allen said...

I could laugh or cry at this, given the naive and utopian aspect of it. A simple question is why would the stations named, which have a lot of different structures and agendas, want to change to make way for jazz? What's in it for them?

Let me put it another way. There are several jazz shows on WMBR, one, I say modestly, mine. Do you listen to them? Have they ever been mentioned in this blog or similar ones? Most importantly, do you support them? It is really a humbling experience during fundraising to watch the rock shows rake it while jazz scrapes by. The jazz audience is notorious for not ponying up.

If you support what you have first, maybe then we can talk about pie-in-the-sky schemes.

Fred Allen
Sound Principles, WMBR 88.1
Monday 6-8 PM

Steve Provizer said...

Fred, Thanks for your comments. I've listened many times to your show and value your efforts. Yes, like many in the jazz audience, my contributions to WMBR have been sporadic. The only excuse for not giving may be that, because of its MIT affiliation, people don't feel as though the station is really in jeopardy. I personally also never thought that general fundraising could effect the fate of an individual show. Maybe I was being naive about those things and maybe you can speak to that.

As to what's in it for a station to sign on-yes, there's the rub, as I've said in my posts. I think this particular idea is more rooted in reality than the idea of influencing a medium or large sized NPR affiliate, but it is still a tough sell.

There are a lot of fertile minds out there-jazz people are famous for it-so I propose trying to create an atmosphere of creativity and seeing what happens.

Teg said...


I'm in Marlboro, and WGBH Jazz signal was the best. WICN signal reaches me but has static. I can receive WERS, too, but other than WGBH I have to depend on my own CDs and internet radio to receive clear Jazz signal. I'm concerned about the move toward canned talk radio replacing authentic, knowledgeable DJs who play and comment on music. I used to live in Pittsburgh, and I've recently watched WDUQ stop being a world-winning Jazz station by evicting Tony Mowod and the rest of the crew in order to promote talk shows. Enough is enough.

Fred Allen said...

The financial contributions of the listeners of WMBR helps with the day-to-day functioning of the station,especially the broadcast equipment. MIT does provide financial support as well as space. In return, they want the station to be a student activity. This means the split between student-community members has to be about 50-50. There is always pressure to recruit and add student members, as they turn over every few years. Community members tend to stay. The number of community members cannot go up unless the student numbers go up and for a variety of reasons,this is difficult to do.

Now students are unlikely to want to do a jazz show. All the jazz shows on WMBR are done by community members, who repropose for their time-slots every program period (as do all shows). One factor in deciding how shows get time slots is number of volunteer hours to the station. So every jazz dj, and every dj, devotes many more hours to the station than just doing their show.

Also, the amount of money a show raises during fundraising technically doesn't count towards eligibility for a slot. But let's be realistic, it doesn't hurt. People do notice. And we don't want to have a station so unpopular than we don't get support from the community.

I haven't even touched on things like engineer training. So a lot of hours are required of each dj besides airtime.

My point is you can't simply say hey, how about more jazz shows at a certain time. Other people want those times for their shows. And they've earned them.

And again, if the community hasn't shown support for what is there already, why should the station management bother?

Fred Allen
Sound Principles WMBR 88.1


Steve Provizer said...

Thanks for your response, Fred. I've known a number of people with shows at WMBR and I know how dedicated they are.

I don't think as a general principle, that my idea can't work in this context. I think it does come down to the nitty gritty details. Will a slot open up in 6 months, can it be a jazz slot, can someone run the show, can a show that's on the air now at a certain time be moved to a different day or time so that there is _some_ jazz on the air in Boston?

Some pieces may fall into place in one station and not another. But again, as a general principle, I don't think we need to proceed as if it won't work. I'm sure we'll find that out as we go along. Hopefully, we'll also find that sometimes it will work.