Sunday, February 2, 2020

Some Thoughts About Radio Station WBGO

I first listened to WBGO in July 1992 just before my job interview at NJIT in Newark.  I arrived a short time before my appointment and I sat in the campus center where they were playing jazz music from that station.  I liked what I heard and started to listen with some degree of regularity.  To make a very long story short, I was hired as a Technical Reference Librarian at NJIT and stayed there for 25 years until I retired.  That is a completely different story.

Over the years I have listened to many terrestrial, internet and satellite radio stations, but I always found some time to listen to WBGO.  I usually listen to Gary Walker's morning show for about 40 minutes and the rhythm and blues programming on Saturday mornings.  Listening to the station has allowed me to develop some interest in jazz music.  I have attended some concerts at nearby Flushing Town Hall over the years.

The highlights of my listening to WBGO were Gary Walker's playing of Bob Dylan covers by Ben Sidran and Bettye Lavette.  Please look at these 3 journal entries for more detail:

Today I was somewhat disturbed to read this article in the New York Times about turmoil at the station.  Radio enthusiasts usually are not aware of this business and political situations at their favorite stations.   The article states the station is distancing itself from the community that built it.  The station ended exhibitions and parties and even prevented people from entering their building.  There were grievances about racial imbalances in the station's management.  The majority of jazz enthusiasts and residents of Newark are African-American while this was not reflected in the current management of WBGO.  The station's innovative yet divisive and chief executive just resigned.

Readers of Bruce's Journal can refer to the New York Times article linked above for the details.

I certainly hope that WBGO will "right the ship" and correct the inequities stated in the article.  Any company's workforce should reflect the demographics of its community.  Please continue the excellent jazz and R&B programming that has been on the station for over 40 years.

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