I am a loyal listener of National Public Radio. It is my main source of news and entertainment. It often inspires topics for this blog. Whenever I travel by car, I look up the NPR station for the area in question so that I can stay connected. It fascinates me how different one NPR station can be from another. (You can find your NPR station here.)
For example, I listen to KPLU here in Seattle, and because of that, I whenever I hear Jazz, I will always think of this city. I actually like Jazz, but KPLU kind of overdoes it. Here’s today’s schedule. Interspersed with Morning Edition and All Things Considered and Fresh Air, we have: Midnight to 4 am: Jazz 24. 9am to 3 pm: Midday Jazz. 7:30 pm to Midnight: Evening Jazz. If I hear “I Loves You Porgy” one more time, as good as it is, I may lose my mind. My kingdom for a little freakin’ variety!
The only NPR station I’ve heard that was even more monotonous was WQCS out of Fort Pierce, Florida. Classical. Once in a while, a little news. But classical, classical, classical. I could only take it in very short doses. The odd thing about this station is it’s broadcast from the local college. They seem to have overlooked that entire potential audience and have chosen instead to target people born in the 1800’s. What a waste.
On the other hand, just up the Florida Coast from WQCS is one of the best NPR stations I’ve ever heard. WFIT in Melbourne, Florida is all about variety! Yes, today they’re doing Jazz from Midnight to 5 am and Morning Edition from 5 to 9 am, but from 9 to 10 they’re doing Democracy Now, and from 10 am to 2 pm it’s Sound Waves. Sound waves is a mix of contemporary music, independent labels and rock classics. You will often hear stuff on Sound Waves that you won’t hear anywhere else. And then 2 pm to 4 pm is World Café, one of my favorites. It’s a mix of blues, rock, world music, folk, and alternative country. It’s nationally syndicated. (I can’t understand why more NPR stations don’t pick it up.) Then, from 4 to 7 pm is All Things Considered, and from 7 to 10 pm is Jazz On The Beach, and from 10 pm to Midnight is Mozart’s Attic. See? A nice variety! How hard is that? Seriously?
Another great NPR station, much to my shock, is KUSU in Salt Lake City. On any given day, they broadcast talk shows like BBC World Service, TED Radio Hour, As It Happens, Human Kind and The Zesty Garden. I have to admit this one is a bit light on the music, but it does bring hyper-conservative Salt Lake a wide variety of views and news that they probably have no other exposure to, so more power to them!
And you won’t hear me say many good things about my old hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, but I have to admit that WJCT is a fantastic station. Decades ago they were a dry, boring, classical station, but under new management they have blossomed. Not only do they carry the regular news programs, including a local one, but the music… Oh! The music in the evenings! I used to adore Electro Lounge, which was a laid-back mixed bag of delightful surprises. I also looked forward to String Theory every week, with its modern acoustic alternative vibe. Shows like Indie Endeavor, Doo Wop Revival, Country Crossroads, Blues Horizon, Lost in the Stacks, Route 66, and This Is Jazz virtually guaranteed that on this station you could never be bored. I am stunned that they don’t try to nationally syndicate these shows. They could support their station that way.
And speaking of support, if you have the means, please support your NPR station. We must keep quality news and music alive and kicking! The beauty of all these stations is you can listen to them on line from anywhere in the world. And I do, believe me. Man cannot live on Jazz alone.
[Image credit: stellarfour.com]