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.
. . 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!