The sounds of jazz have been heard over the WKCR FM airwaves for over 60 years. In that time we have cultivated a position of great respect among both listeners and musicians (Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charles Mingus have walked our hallways, and this past year we have been visited by Han Bennink, Roswell Rudd, Fred Hersch, Muhal Richard Abrams, William Parker, George Lewis among many notable others).
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.
At WKCR, all of our resources and efforts are directed towards presenting America's art music in a historically conscious and educational fashion. Guided by alumni members, who are among the foremost jazz experts in the world, our DJs have produced a variety of festivals, serving to educate both programmer and listener. Beginning in 1970 (see Phil Schaap interview), WKCR began to present extended broadcasts, generally exceeding 150 hours in length, whose purpose was, and still is, to present the complete recorded works of an important musician. A few notable examples include the Louis Armstrong Centennial Festival Part I (June 30 -July 7, 2000; 184 hours), and the Duke Ellington Centennial Festival (April 23 - May 1, 1999; 240 hours).
Aside from festivals such as the ones just mentioned, WKCR's jazz department also presents 14 annual 'Birthday Broadcasts,' 24-hour marathons that celebrate the birthdays of the pivotal figures in jazz history as holidays. In addition to the Birthday Broadcasts, WKCR also occasionally interrupts regular programming for unscheduled 'Memorial Broadcasts' which serve to pay tribute to musicians upon their passing and alert the jazz community to memorials and funeral plans. Mindful that jazz is not just a recorded phenomenon, but a rich community based on human interaction, WKCR serves as a vital bulletin board, announcing upcoming concerts and music-related events. Overall, we are committed to keeping our listeners abreast of all significant jazz happenings.
With this kind of dedication and attention to the history and ongoing preservation of the jazz legacy, we seek to simultaneously address the needs of both the newcomer to jazz and the aficionado. Listeners turn to WKCR because they know that we lead them to the classic, rare, and cutting-edge sounds of Jazz.
Besides the weekly shows mentioned below, numerous special broadcasts occur throughout the year, pre-empting all regular programming for at least 24-hours. Click here for a list of our Birthday Broadcasts and other special programming info.