Updated. As many Boston listeners feared, WGBH has put its jazz programming on the road to extinction. What is to be done?
By J. R. Carroll
“[T]he other shoe dropped…”
—WGBH jazz host Steve Schwartz
to Joseph Kahn at boston.com
And so, the twitterverse erupted:
BAD NEWS FOR JAZZ & THE GREATER BOSTON JAZZ COMMUNITY: After a thousand tiny cuts, WGBH has brought down the axe… http://t.co/tdzwzY4v
— JazzBoston (@JazzBoston) June 20, 2012
The notloB (hint: read it backwards) music blog has reproduced Steve and Eric’s Facebook status updates—Steve’s is positively heartbreaking, and I can only imagine the inner turmoil masked by Eric’s stoic statement. Musicians, including Phil Grenadier, Bob and Kaoruko Pilkington, Fernando Huergo, Dave Bryant, Allan Chase, Guillermo Nojechowicz, Yoko Miwa, Melissa Kassel, Jerry Sabatini, Pamela Hines, Mark Shilansky, Ken Field, Russ Gershon, Teresa Ines, Warren Wolf, Stephen Bourassa, Jason Palmer, Greg Osby, Semenya McCord, Alain Mallet, and Ben Schwendener, as well as writers Bill Beuttler, Steve Morse, and Clea Simon, broadcaster Lydia Liebman (daughter of Dave), local jazz institution “Stereo Jack” Woker, and, saddest of all, former colleague Ron Gill, all weighed in with expressions of mingled sorrow and outrage.
Local media watcher Dan Kennedy posted WGBH’s press release on his website, and from that we get a picture of what the new program lineup will be:
- Morning Edition expanding from 6 to 10 a.m.
- The Diane Rehm Show airing daily from 10 to 11 a.m.
- The Takeaway airing daily from 11 a.m. to noon.
- Boston Public Radio (local talk format with Callie Crossley, Emily Rooney, Kara Miller, Jared Bowen, Adam Reilly and others exploring local news, politics, culture and technology) airing from noon to 2 p.m. with a daily replay from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
- Tell Me More (NPR program hosted by Mishel Martin, examining U.S. and international news, ideas, and people; its range of topics covers politics, faith and spirituality, the family, finance, arts and culture, and lifestyle) airing from 2 to 3 p.m.
- The World airing from 3 to 4 p.m. and then again from 8 to 9 p.m.
- All Things Considered airing from 4 to 6 p.m. and from 6:30 to 7 p.m.
- The audio of The PBS NewsHour airing from 7 to 8 p.m.
Regrettably, Kennedy is also the source of one of the more obtuse responses to the news, “It’s a shame, but I suspect not many people listen to terrestrial jazz radio in the age of Pandora.” This drew a number of rebukes, including this one from Mark Bulger, “. . . no, I never listen to jazz on Pandora or any other streaming radio service. I trust the decades of experience and taste of Eric Jackson to serve me up music that will surprise me, not some machine algorithm that makes ridiculous choices.”
Word spread rapidly, even prompting a tweet from the Jazz Journalists Association who, ironically, were in the midst of announcing their annual awards:
Josh Jackson reports bad jazz radio news: Steve Schwartz and Eric Jackson cut from WGBH in Boston. #jjaJazzAwards
— JJA Jazz Awards (@jjajazzawards) June 20, 2012
Comments came from fellow jazz broadcasters:
— WBGO – The Checkout (@checkoutjazz) June 21, 2012
And local jazz venues:
— The Regattabar (@TheRegattabar) June 20, 2012
Bad news for jazz radio in Boston. WGBH slashes jazz airtime, fans protest. http://t.co/kbzX2nc7
— Ted Gioia (@tedgioia) June 20, 2012
And many, many long-time listeners:
shocked, appalled & disappointed re @wgbh 's dramatic reduction of radio jazz. Eric's weeknight show made me proud to be a Bostonian.
— Nettie Lagace (@abugseye) June 20, 2012
Boston musician Steve Provizer wrote on his Brilliant Corners blog, “There 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. . . . 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.”
What is to be done?
Steve Schwartz suggested writing to WGBH Managing Director Phil Redo at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Facebook group has formed to protest the programming changes:
News travels fast. Bad news travels faster. There is already a Save Eric In the Evening Group page on Facebook here: http://t.co/YkYKZ5OP
— Boston Radio Watch® (@bostonradio) June 20, 2012
A Facebook group called Save Eric in the Evening has been set up and already has 1,618 members, and another Facebook group, initiated by veteran jazz publicist Sue Auclair, has been created at Save Jazz on WGBH now! (now up to 747 members).
On both of these pages there have been eloquent pleas from Sergio Brandao and Russ Gershon, among others.
A petition to WGBH management has been started at iPetitions
This is a devastating blow to the Boston jazz community, and the major jazz institutions of New England will need to step up.
I’ll have more to say about this in the coming days.
Updated Fuse pieces on the fate of jazz on WGBH: