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Thurston Briscoe talking about the future of the Jazz radio deejay.

Has the Jazz blogger supplanted the old school Jazz deejay?

Bret Primack’s Jazz Video Guy YouTube channel has an interesting discussion going about the future of the Jazz radio  deejay. The conversation includes a group of aficionados talking about the fate of the Jazz radio show host.

“When I was a young man, which was in the last century,” Primack began, “I listened to Jazz radio and there were these really dynamic Jazz radio personalities who kind of turned me on to the music. Billy Taylor was one of them. He would play the music and he would talk about it. He had a level of expertise. And he engendered a certain enthusiasm.”

Then Primack turned to his guests, first among them veteran public radio Jazz presenter Thurston Briscoe. “How has jazz radio changed in terms of the on-air personalities interfacing with the audience in terms of information and personality?” he asked.

“There are two thoughts that I have,” Briscoe responded. “One. I think that the audience has changed because they have more choices. The way I instructed the announcers at WBGO [Newark, NJ] is to limit their talk. Don’t give me a five minute explanation as to why you loved that song, when you learned it, what great musicians are playing, because people want to hear the music.”

” You can give them that information,” he added, “that’s what is great about blogs and things like that. So I believe that that’s what helped save BGO from turning people away, because we’re not going on the air for three or four minutes talking about what we played.”

Agreed, said Linda Yohn of WEMU of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Jazz radio today is “much more fast paced,” she noted. “We have learned to self-edit. Our breaks are max about a minute and forty five seconds these days. So the back announce is quick. What is more important is getting people to tune in for what is coming up.”

“It’s not what you just heard; it’s what you are going to hear,” Yohn observed.

Am I the only one in the room who misses Billy Taylor? Listen to the rest of the discussion here.

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One Response to Has the Jazz blogger supplanted the old school Jazz deejay?

  1. Willard Jenkins February 17, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Matthew, Thanks for posting a link to our wide-ranging discussion on the state of jazz radio on The Hang last Saturday. I have to admit that – relative to your missing Billy Taylor comment – I too find Thurston’s sense that listeners no longer need/want/require that kind of informative information on what they’re listening to – at least that’s how I surmise your Billy Taylor reference. I find that kind of no information thinking counter to why I first became a jazz radio listener.

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