Monday, May 11, 2009

Jazz radio in Boston gets cut with big changes on WFNX & WGBH

Jazz host Jeff Turton announced today that WFNX FM has cancelled his show, The Sunday Jazz Brunch, as of his show yesterday after 26 years on the air on Sunday mornings.

“I got a call late last week informing me that this past Sunday would be my last show. The reason being given is budget cuts related to diminished revenues at both ‘FNX and at the Boston Phoenix. While I wasn't surprised, given the nature of the newspaper business and radio in general, I am incredibly disappointed. I’m not sure where to go next but I guess I'll sleep in for a couple of weekends and then figure it out. I still plan on being active in some way but everything happened pretty quickly so I really haven't had much of an opportunity to figure out what's next,” noted Turton in an e-mail Monday morning.

Legendary jazz concert promoter Fred Taylor weighed in. “I think it shows WFNX’s total lack of acknowledgement of Boston’s arts community. To cut one lonely jazz show like this which represents a basic American art form from the station’s 24-7 programming is unconscionable,” he said upon hearing the news.

“Jeff Turton has been a jazz resource for Boston listeners for 26 years. He hosted the go-to show on Sunday morning radio, and he will definitely be missed.” stated noted jazz writer and Marsalis Music Creative Consultant Bob Blumenthal.

Last week came the news that WGBH FM jazz host Ron Gill would be moving to North Carolina to live with relatives after 23 years on the radio here and the jazz scene held its collective breath and wondered who would be his replacement host. Then the word came that his show would be covered by another syndicated show taped on the west coast by Bob Parlocha.

Next there was a call from WGBH 9 year veteran jazz DJ Al Davis. “I can’t book any guests on the show until I speak with WGBH. They’ve called me in for a meeting and it sounds serious,” said Al to publicist Sue Auclair.

Tuesday, May 15 brought the news that ALL of the Jazz Gallery hosts would be departing at the end of May. That included Davis on overnight Fridays, 15 year veterin Kevin Ball overnight on Saturdays and Ron Gill, overnight on Sundays. Davis and Ball will be occasional substitutes for Eric Jackson’s “Eric In The Evening.”

All live-hosted weekend jazz shows will be gone, as of May 30 and the new programming will feature “Jazz With Bob Parlocha,” the program that is syndicated nationally and now already airs on 89.7 FM overnights on weeknights.

While it’s good that jazz will still be on the air on WGBH FM, it disconnects the regional audience from the live Boston experience, say some.

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