Hooray for Edutainment

Well we’re just about half-way through WKCR’s four-day festival broadcast celebrating the musical legacy of Lennie Tristano. It began at noon on Tuesday and ‘airs’ continuously until noon on Saturday November 11th. You can listen to it online (there’s a Live Boadcast link at the bottom of their page). My esteemed blogging collegue Mr. Rifftides noted this event and included some basic Tristano data. I mention it today to applaud the station and bring to your attention the type of work a radio station can do if it so chooses — I know, it’s ‘a college station,’ but in today’s world the freedoms that came with that are dwindling as budgetarians eye all campus entities (radio, sports teams…) as potential cash cows. (Think KJAZ in Southern California…)

Anyway, an article in the Columbia University Record dating back to 1995 gives credit to Phil Schaap, who, at the time of that article, was celebrating his 25th anniversary at WKCR. “…Schaap is largely responsible for WKCR’s historic emphasis on jazz and he has also colored the station’s unique form by inventing the “festival” (events which pre-empt all regular programming to concentrate on one artist or theme)…”

A station press release says that in addition to broadcasting a chronological presentation of Tristano’s entire recorded output (presented uninterrupted throughout the day of Friday, November 10th), you will hear “in-depth features on his compositional techniques and teaching methodology, as well as interviews with the former colleagues and students of Tristano who represent his living legacy.

That’s amazing! I know a lot of dee-jays who are nearly in tears because their bosses, not wanting them to break the musical spell with any talk, won’t even allow them to tell us listeners who’s playing on a particular track let alone mention that the artiust might be appearing in town.

According to WKCR’s web site:
“Roughly 67 hours (about 40%) of WKCR airtime is currently devoted to Jazz music each week and, quite simply, we present American art music that no other radio station plays. We practice a ‘one foot in the past, one foot in the future’ approach. Unlike other ‘jazz’ stations, WKCR is deeply commited to the rich and storied history of jazz music and its numerous genuises, many of whom have been unfortunately neglected in recent decades. Additionally, we feature and interview cutting edge, avant-garde musicians who are seldom heard in more commerically-driven media. ”