WBGO Blog
  • Sweet Victory - LSU Captures the BCS

    January 8, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Geaux Tigers

    This has nothing to do with jazz, and everything to do with football. When you grow up in the South, SEC football is king. And when you grow up in Louisiana, there's only one team you care about - the LSU Tigers. The Bayou Bengals, as we called them "down the bayou."

    LSU 38, Ohio State 24. That's the final word on one of the craziest seasons in college football I've seen. I know there are gonna be some haters out there (USC, UGA, KU and Missouri fans, particularly), but I'm convinced that the Tigers are the top team in the nation.

    After the first six minutes of the BCS game, I wasn't so sure. OSU scored ten points quickly, and they looked ready to play. LSU proceeded to score 31 unanswered points, and the die was cast.

    Apologies to WBGO News Director Doug Doyle, who lost his football pool when the combined team score surpassed 40 points. Helmets off to LSU special teams play, and to DT Glenn Dorsey, a class act who will surely go in the top five of the NFL draft.

    Final stat - LSU is the only team to have won two BCS Championship trophies. Geaux Tigers. - Josh

    PS It's almost 2am. I'm going to pay for this later. My flight to IAJE in Toronto leaves in 4 hours.

  • The (Stupid) Things We Do For Music

    January 3, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Sometimes, but not often, my penchant for thrift outweighs my basic need for self-preservation.  Today was a perfect example.

    Pianist Jason Lindner is visiting the WBGO performance studio this afternoon to record a session with his Now vs. Now band (Avishai Cohen, Panagiotis Andreou, Mark Guiliana, and Baba Israel).  This is their first studio recording.  Everyone but the drummer is using electronic processing, which means we need direct boxes to record them.  Seven of them.  WBGO owns two, and one is broken.  That's the background story.

    It's 14 degrees in New York this morning, with a wind chill near zero.  Zed.  Nil. Cold enough to freeze the breath from my nose onto my facial hair.

    We typically rent whatever instrument equipment (like direct boxes and extra instrument cables) from Carroll Music.  They're at 625 55th Street, between 11th Avenue and the Hudson River.  Which is nowhere near public transportation.  So after a nice trek from Columbus Circle, I was hurting from the wind shear coming off the Hudson.  I arrive, only to pick up a giant metal case with our equipment weighing approximately 45 pounds.  No wheels.  Sweet.

    After I schlepp everything back 58th Street, I walk into the subway entrance. I wobble past the NYPD as they're checking some poor guy's briefcase (but never consider stopping me, a very large man in black with a sizable case that I'm clearly struggling to tote).

    Long story short.  I'm in Newark.  I saved 150 bucks in cartage costs.  Well, 75 bucks so far.  And I have some killer forearms now.

    Hope the music's good!

    Josh

  • It's What I Do

    January 2, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    "It's what I do ..."
    I never know what to say when I get a compliment. I've always been amazed that people actually like me and like what I do -- and that I get paid to do what I do. I've sometimes felt that if I say "thank you" I feel as if I'm acknowledging that whatever nice thing someone is saying to me is true.
    "I love your interviews!"
    "It's what I do ..."
    "You got so many pledges that last hour!"
    "It's what I do ..."
    I've been "doing" for 35 years on the radio, and it was only after 25 years that I felt that apparently I'm good at this, good at ... what I do.

    New Year's Eve was my 21st coast-to-coast broadcast and my 23rd anniversary as a jock on WBGO. My first shift was filling for Rhonda in the afternoon, December 31, 1984. January 1st is the birthday of Milt Jackson, and so I played a day-before birthday tribute. Phone rang, and the voice said "This is Bags. Thanks." And in that moment I knew that I was a jazz jock in the jazz capitol of the world.
    Even though we broadcast from Newark, and there's considerable Jersey pride at WBGO, I usually tell people elsewhere in the world that I'm from the jazz station in New York. We apparently, last I heard any numbers, have more listeners and more members in New York than in New Jersey -- although, really, I say New York mostly because I live in New York.
    I only recently realized that I'm a commuter.
    Back before the various large edifices that have gone up in Newark since I first came to the station -- law school, arts center, FBI, and now the Rock -- the walk on Raymond Blvd twixt train station and radio station was darker. I never felt especially in danger. I've always been quite grizzly, and I've seen folks on the street fear me. What was weird in the 80's was when folks in New York asked me if I carried a gun to protect myself in Newark.
    Tempus fugit ...
    23 years ...
    I knocked the station off the air 20 minutes before I first came on the air. I was expected to record myself on a cassette. Remember them? Various plugs and wires were involved, and I somehow plugged the entire on-air signal into the cassette recorder. Nobody knew what was happening and the phones started ringing about the dead air. I didn't know what was happening, but I thought maybe I should un-plug the cassette recorder, and at once WBGO was resounding loudly again.
    I'm still the clumsiest jock on WBGO. I'm not kidding when I get crabby about "too many buttons!" I've pushed the wrong buttons and played the wrong CDs countlessly. We didn't have CDs when I came to the station. We played music from a wall of LPs. Remember them? I remember when the first CD player came in. There was what looked like a spice rack in the studio with four CDs. One was "Glenn Miller in a Digital Mood" -- which I never played even once. I was afraid that if I endeavored to play a CD I'd blow the station off the air again.
    I'm proud to say that since that first clumsiness, I have knocked the station off the air only one other time. Readings said our power was too high for the FCC max, so I pushed the button that lowers the power and the power lowered to zero. After a scramble of engineers like the code blue for a heart attack, we came back.
    We now have an all-new computerized system for on-air spots, calendars, produced programs, and IDs. It's been working for almost a month now, and I've only screwed up a half dozen times. I once said to Josh Jackson, who's a whiz at working all this new tech and was so quickly and seeming effortlessly editing a special we were producing on a machine with a screen full of multi-colored squiggles, "I feel like a baboon looking at a rocket ship ..."
    I'm much more technologically adept than I used to be. I'm helpless about the squiggles, but I sometimes can get through an entire shift without pushing a wrong button. Even a monkey can learn how to ride a bike.
    I've actually never learned how to ride a bike -- but that's another story. Now comes ... blogging.
    E-mail, I can do.
    Googling, I can do.
    Porn, any baboon can do.
    I've owned a computer for two years, and by now I'm not as cyber-challenged as I first was.
    I've actually been able to listen to baseball on my computer.
    I've finally been able -- without help -- to buy stuff on my computer.
    Now comes ... blogging.
    I've been asked and encouraged to blather about ... whatever.
    Baseball. Batman. Musicals. Traveling. Why I think of myself as Dutch. Why I've lately become obsessive about "Pride and Prejudice" and Jane Austen. And other things I love. And also ... love.
    When I was initially asked to blog about what I think about, my immediate answer was "Who cares?" I'm blogging now only because my loved ones have insisted that listeners who like me might like to know ... what I do when I'm not doing what I do on WBGO. And also how I do what I do. I've been requested to explain how I program Singers Unlimited -- which will involve confessing a variety of eccentricities I've heretofore never talked about -- when the easiest answer is nonetheless
    "It's what I do ..."

    I'm Michael Bourne.