After 56 years, ‘All Night Jazz’ is dead on Tampa Bay’s WUSF 89.7-FM | Music News | Tampa

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Photo via Steve Splane

George Geiger was the first DJ to play jazz on WUSF in 1966

A 56-year-old staple of the Tampa music scene is heading to the grave on Halloween night when WUSF 89.7-FM unplugs “All Night Jazz.”

Today, WUSF General Manager JoAnn Urofsky told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that jazz on WUSF 89.7-FM “will be replaced by great public radio programming starting Monday, October 31.”

“These programs include 1A Plus, As It Happens and the second hour of Science Friday,” she added. “The changes mean WUSF 89.7 will focus entirely on news and information, including weather and safety, so we can better serve Florida residents.”

In March, airtime for nighttime programming was reduced from eight hours (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) to just three (9 p.m. to midnight). At the time, Urofsky told staff members and the jazz community that the change was partly to make way for more BBC World Service news about the war in Ukraine.

Urofsky told CL that WUSF Jazz — which already has its own website and social media accounts — is moving to the station’s Arts Axis Florida hub.

“…jazz will grow tremendously and we will be able to add music, videos, podcasts and live jazz events and performances, allowing WUSF to reach more jazz audiences when and where they are; online, mobile, social media and beyond; all 24/7,” she added.

But all of these things already exist on wusfjazz.org. Additionally, Arts Axis’ Facebook page only has 245 followers, compared to 1,277 on All Night Jazz’s Facebook account.

Urofsky has yet to respond to follow-up questions regarding the specific reasoning for taking the programming — which regularly spotlighted local jazz artists and the biggest jazz shows happening in town — off the air. We’ll update this post when she does.

“I’m not sure how they think they’re going to increase band coverage or jazz content on the station by taking it off the air,” Mike Cornette told CL.

Cornette, who retired last December, was the last person to serve as WUSF’s jazz director. He called the move a “sad affront to jazz fans” in the Tampa Bay area who have turned to “All Night Jazz” to not only be a companion for lonely nights, but the go-to source for information on the local jazz scene. .

A job description for WUSF’s new Arts Axis Florida brand manager takes on the same responsibilities as Cornette, but it’s still unclear how that person will reconnect jazz fans with “All Night Jazz” programmers. .

“‘All Things Considered’ didn’t even start until 1971,” Cornette added, alluding to the motivation to replace 56 years of jazz with NPR news. “It’s a shame they’re ignoring the audience they’ve built because they don’t want to have it on air.”

“All Night Jazz” DJ Steve Splane, who came out of retirement to help Cornette with programming, told CL that in a meeting last Friday, he and other contributors weren’t thanked when the station executives announced to him and other jazz programmers plans to move their shows to Arts Axis.

“Most importantly, those of the generations of jazz entertainers who came before us weren’t recognized or respected,” Splane said.

Splane has already recorded part of his next on-air appearance, but told CL he plans to do it again to pay homage to George Geiger, who was the first DJ to play jazz on WUSF in 1966.

Splane sadly told the story of a Seminole-based saxophonist, Trace Zacur, who graduated in 2020 from Berklee College Of Music. Zacur recently told Bob Seymour (WUSF’s last jazz director before Cornette) that he idolized him and grew up on the station.

“There are hundreds more like Zacur, hundreds of kids like him in the Bay Area over the years,” Splane said.

This is a developing post.

UPDATED 10/18/22 5:45 PM Updated to clarify that “All Night Jazz” has been on 89.7-FM for 56 years.

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