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602 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
Knoxville residents old or new on picking up the August 26 issue, “The Jazz Scene,” would see quite readily that interest in the genre is alive and well in our fine little city. We’ve got top-notch individual players, 14 different venues who accommodate jazz at least part-time, the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, and now even a documentary movie on the history of jazz in the city.
Which makes it all the more puzzling why, for many years, WUOT 91.9 FM has all but completely ignored the genre in favor of playing classical music nearly non-stop. Jazz has been relegated to 90 minutes a day Monday-Thursday and a token four-and-a-half-hour slot on Friday nights. Total jazz programming on the weekends? None! Even WUOT-2 streamed on the station website broadcasts almost zero jazz to the Knoxville music community!
I note that program director Daniel Berry—a self-admitted classical-music buff plus classical-music program announcer for the station—entered retirement on Sept. 1 after 27 years of service to the station. A note as part of his retirement announcement on the WUOT website reads: “Although we’re saying farewell to a long-time classical announcer, you can count on the continuation of quality classical music weekday mornings on WUOT. We will be rearranging duties and staffing, and we plan to hire a local, part-time classical music host.”
I am hoping that “the continuation of quality classical music on weekday mornings” and “rearranging duties and staffing” also means classical music will be relegated to the daytime hours on WUOT and we can finally have world-class jazz programming on local FM radio through the night on weeknights and on weekends. My public-radio dollars are currently being contributed to radio stations in other cities who stream live on the Web and play jazz. I am certain WUOT can compete for this money both locally and nationally. It is time for a change—seize the moment!