America’s Jazz Heritage Growing & Evolving on Public Radio

noncomMUSIC AllianceJazz, Preservation

From coast to coast, and everywhere in between, the full range of America’s jazz heritage is drawing big audiences and giving the format a place to grow and transform.

According to Jazz in America, jazz is reflective of American culture and considered to be the “only truly original American art form.” Noncommercial public radio stations around the country are playing a big role in its preservation and evolution, in markets across the United States, there remains a strong fan base for jazz. And in many places, public radio oftentimes the only source of jazz on the air.

Denver public radio station KUVO, packs nearly 24 hours of jazz music into each day and examines every facet of the genre. KUVO’s homegrown jazz shows cover a wide swath of the genre, for every jazz listener’s tastes including:

  • Breakfast Jazz with JJ on Saturday mornings, which features a range of jazz styles
  • You can listen to smooth jazz on Groove Jazz Rendezvous
  • Jazz Odyssey will help you discover “the next directions in jazz”
  • One of the station’s oldest programs, Salsa Con Jazz provides Latin Jazz connoisseurs with salsa, mambo, cha cha cha and more
  • So What! The Radio Show, serves the night owls as a late-night program airing acid jazz, nujazz, and neo-soul, blended with a taste of hip hop, funk and other futuristic beats and sounds
  • All Blues, shares every aspect of blues music on Saturday afternoons.

And, like nearly all jazz and mixed format public radio stations around the country, KUVO airs nationally syndicated programs including NPR’s Jazz Night in America, hosted by legendary bassist Christian McBride and  Cool Jazz Countdown, which presents some of the top new jazz albums of each week.

Check out KUVO’s full lineup and listen online!
Stream Online

WNCU 90.7 FM‘s mission is to entertain “the jazz aficionado, educate the novice jazz listener and disseminates news and information relative to the community-at-large.” Licensed to North Carolina Central University, the first liberal arts institution for African Americans in the U.S., and a leading member of the African American Public Radio Consortium, WNCU presents a steady stream of locally and nationally produced jazz and blues programs. It’s also a central resource for jazz fans – on the air and online – about live local jazz performances.

WEMU, the public radio station serving Eastern Michigan, offers nearly 90 hours of jazz programming each week. Michael Jewett, who has worked for the station since 1983, curates 20 of those hours during 89.1 Jazz with Michael Jewett. His playlist often includes a mix of blues and early R&B with bebop and jazz fusion titles.

Peruse Michael’s Playlists
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And then there’s WDCB, which calls itself “Chicago’s Home for Jazz.” That’s a pretty big claim in a town long known as one of the most dynamic centers of the genre. The station lives up to that claim with its weekly schedule is filled nearly wall to wall with jazz and blues programming, curated by some of the most knowledgeable and experienced DJs. Programs include:

  • DCB Jazz, an uninterrupted presentation of straight-ahead jazz
  • Chicago Jazz Live, a one-hour weekly program of exclusive live performances from the deep pool of local Chicago jazz musicians
  • Jammin’ Jazz for the New Generation, which “features all that is cool and groovey, and happenin’ in Modern Jazz right this minute.”
Don’t live in Chicago? You can listen to WDCB online!
Listen Online

These are a small sampling of the wide swath of public radio stations around the country proving that the audience for jazz is strong and growing. Noncommercial music stations are playing a role in writing new chapters of America’s long and deep jazz heritage.