San Diego's Jazz


Blog Name: Riffs on RadioAuthor: Posted on: March 26, 2013

People often refer to Jazz 88.3 as a “radio station.”  Forty years ago, when we started playing Jazz and Blues, that was a perfect description of the services we provided to the community.  Today, however, we are much more than an entertainment-service-formerly-known-as-a-radio-station.

 Sure, we present endlessly varied, interesting music al statements of time, space and being, seen through the lens of the American experience to San Diego and Southern California via our traditional terrestrial broadcast.  But we also offer the same insight to listeners across the country and around the world via our online stream, and our mobile apps.  And it doesn’t stop there.  (I know I’m preaching to the choir, but there’s a reason for this.)

 We present 14 live concerts in the acoustically perfect Lyman Saville Theatre at San Diego City College.  We host eleven Happy Hours a year where people gather to enjoy one another’s company accompanied by terrific local artists’ performances, as well as roof-top gatherings during the summer at the Westgate, and other incidental events around the county. 

Besides all this, we support the interest of new people in Jazz and the Blues, and by “new” I mean newly hatched humans.  Kids, of all ages.  That is the purpose of this long intro. We have four on-going, long term music education programs that connect this music to children today.  And connect it does.  You know the toe-tapping, mood changing power of these sounds.  The syncopations, melodies and improvisations that never grow old, and always bring a smile.  We believe that kids need to know that there are musical alternatives to the thumping bass line or the electronically enhanced vocal.  And that those alternatives can be very spiritually satisfying.  (Okay, so the kids don’t realize that it’s emotional satisfaction that they crave, but we can talk about it when they’re not here.)

 All this being said, I present a letter we received in response to our sponsorship of Jazz: An American Art Form, for Title I schools.  JAAAF is a 45-minute enrichment program, based on the spontaneous evolution of this music, presented by four of San Diego’s most outstanding musicians.  Title I schools rarely have the budget for enrichment programs, so, working with our private donors, we have arranged funding for these presentations for more than 18,000 area students in the past 3 years.  Why bother?  What’s the big deal?  The note from a Title I parent below tells you.

 Letter of Recommendation

                   From Aaryn     


. . . Rarely does my daughter come home and talk about what happens at school (the first rule of grade school is you don't talk about grade school).

However. Last night at dinner she said, "I know how jazz started...," and she proceeded to tell a story that ended with river boats bringing music "all along the water to everybody!" Another parent posted this comment on my Facebook page: "My six-year-old was amused by the song choice. She knew it was the Flintstones, but apparently a child in the audience yelled out "Charlie Brown!" She was so proud to know the difference....Anyway, she thoroughly enjoyed the performance. My nine-year-old got in the car and said, 'Quick, Mom! Turn the radio to FM 88.3! It is a jazz station, just like we heard at school today! I memorized the number all day just to tell you!'"

This performance was such a gift. These children have very little exposure to music---or quality art of any kind, really---in public school these days. The sad fact is that, unless a school is a fundraising machine (and ours is not), these important teachable moments such as the one provided so enthusiastically, and so generously by Rob Thorsen,  Gilbert C Castellanos, Bob Boss and Richard Sellers, are pretty much unheard of. Unequal access abounds. But yesterday, the kids got to witness, and be participants in, world class jazz by world class musicians, who for a couple of hours, leveled the playing field. When my daughter comes home to talk about it? I know a spark has been lit! Much, much gratitude to you all!

I get misty every time I read this note.  It’s such a testament to the power of this music.  To the value of what we do.  This letter gives listeners a reason that goes well beyond their own satisfaction to support Jazz 88.3 with a donation when we ask. Because, if I were to ask you on the street, “Do you think it’s important for kids in school to be exposed to music?” I’m willing to bet you actual money that you would answer, “Of course it is.” 

We are the vehicle for you.  We take your wish, (to expose school children to music) and make it happen.  And that, my friends, is why we are so different from your standard “radio station.”  We transmute our passion for this music into action, which is good for all of us. 


P.S.  Okay, you’re right.  I am the one, over in the corner at the party, talking intensely about public affairs.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  But it’s important!  

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