Saturday, November 28th, marked my 28th Anniversary of work at KIOS-FM. I started hosting radio shifts at the public radio station in November, 1992!
It has been a very rich and full multi-decade career in broadcasting, which has largely been “under the radar” due to the nature of public radio and the lack of professional recognition I have received due to various factors. So I am sufficiently inspired to begin to tell my story here–since no one else will. That’s life. So here goes.
I first felt the pull of broadcasting when I was a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This was back in 1988. I was working on a journalism assignment when walked into the the studios of KBLZ, the then student-operated radio station. Shortly thereafter, I started volunteering at the lively small studio for airshifts as an announcer and a jazz host.
Initially I was scared almost beyond my wits when I first went on-air. Fortunately, I quickly overcame this impediment and started to do the hard work of daily airshifts and fill in assignments. A year or so later I was able to secure an overnight airshift at the UNO public radio station KVNO-FM. Oh man, those were the days–working from midnight to 7am, getting into the real nitty gritty of learning my trade in the middle of the night, the hard way. At that time I also introduced myself to music of jazz trumpet icon Miles Davis, which turned me into a jazz fan overnight. I devoured the station’s record library, until one fateful morning I listened to Billie Holiday for the first time. Her great recording Lady in Satin. At 6am, in the cue channel. I fell in love with her music right away. And my exploration of all things jazz continued, and continues, into the present day.
I hosted the KVNO Fusion Jazz Show for two years before I graduated from UNO. In November, 1992 I was hired on as a Saturday night board operator and host at KIOS-FM. Interestingly, the radio station is located in what was once Technical High School, where I was a member of the last graduating class in 1984. And, notably, the studio space occupied by the station was my homeroom when I was a senior in high school.
Following a few years of paying dues at the station, I was made the host of the program the Last Call, on Saturday nights on KIOS-FM. And I was given a slot as a host for Jazz in the Afternoon as well. I have continued as a host for those shows up until right now.
Additionally, for decades I’ve interviewed many of today’s leading jazz artists and the legends as well. Conversations with David Liebman, Roy Haynes, Horace Silver, Ramsey Lewis and other icons have given me tremendous insight into the living history of jazz music. Additionally, interviews with Matt Wilson, Patricia Barber, Paul Serrato, Karrin Allyson, Rene Marie and other contemporary artists have helped me stay in touch with the pulse of today’s jazz music.
Then there is the jazz concert. Essential for any jazz fan, for years I attended the Iowa City Jazz Festival. It was a world class festival, offering spell binding performances with luminaries such as Jane Ira Bloom, Charles Lloyd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Kenny Garrett and countless others whose performances were unforgettable. Hopefully the festival can make a return in future years after Covid-19 has been brought under control.
Public radio to me is a light on the mountaintop that celebrates the very best-from art to quality news reporting and of course music, including jazz. I’ve gone from playing reel to reel tape programs and cart machines to digital files on a computer playlist. Things have changed but there is one important constant–the music is the message and I am only a humble servant to share this rich musical genre with you, the listener. God willing, I can continue in this capacity for many years to come. I’m grateful to be on-air as a host of America’s great musical contribution to the world—Jazz.