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A Round of Toasts For Awilda Rivera, As She Hosts Her Last Shift of Evening Jazz

Awilda Rivera has been the host of Evening Jazz on WBGO for the last 18 years. This Friday, June 30, will mark her final shift of the show. We'll celebrate with an on-air jam session from 8 to 11 p.m., featuring musicians including clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, percussionist Bobby Sanabria and guitarist Russell Malone. The festivities will be broadcast live on WBGO 88.3 FM and here at wbgo.org.

Awilda has touched and entertained hundreds of thousands of listeners, and among her biggest fans are the people who worked with her. Here are some thoughts from select listeners on Facebook and from WBGO staff:

Dear Awilda: I cannot imagine Evening Jazz without you. You have been such an essential part of WBGO for so long, and you have always made Evening Jazz a warm and inviting place to visit every weeknight. After a long day, we could count on you to be there with sounds that soothed our souls and uplifted our spirits. Thank you for the great music you’ve shared with us over the years, and for the gracious way in which you’ve always presented it. And most of all, thanks for agreeing to stay on to host the Latin Jazz Cruise. That is sweet consolation. I wish you all the best in this next chapter of your life.
— Rhonda Hamilton, host, Mid-Day Jazz

To the hardest working woman in radio: You have worked tirelessly in support of this beautiful music, and I salute you. Your friendship, sense of humor, candor, knowledge and passion for this music will be missed. The soundtrack of our evenings will not have the same groove. The dedication, love and enjoyment you brought to each and every show was felt by everyone who tuned in to join you. Every time I have had the pleasure of being on the air with you, we made it a mission to have a good time, and that we did! Wishing you only the best on your next chapter. Whatever is ahead, I know it will be soulful, just like you! Onward and Upward!
— Monifa Brown, host, Saturday Afternoon Jazz

Awilda Rivera and Nicole Sweeney

I "met" Awilda before I met Awilda, as we were online friends before anything. While working for a radio station in Atlanta, I used to stream WBGO all the time, and her show was always one of my favorites. So imagine my excitement when she tweeted that she was listening to MY show in the ATL. From there we became friends, and she is someone I admire personally as much as I do professionally. Awilda helped me get my foot in the door here at WBGO, which was always a dream of mine — and for that, I am so forever thankful. She's selfless, dedicated, and her passion and commitment to the music will be missed tremendously! Awilda — my chica, my girl, my sister — I love you and thank you for being you. Enjoy your well deserved retirement!
Nicole Sweeney, host, Afternoon Jazz

As one of the “newer” WBGO employees, I haven’t known Awilda as long as most of my colleagues — but for many years from afar, I’ve admired her singular connection to jazz music and her steadfast commitment to excellence. Having the opportunity to work with (and for) her was one of the things I looked forward to with excitement when I decided to work for WBGO.  And then, when Awilda informed me of her intention to retire, I shook off the sadness and started to think about a fitting gesture of recognition for her outstanding contributions to our city, community and chosen profession. Once we decided to throw a party and invite dozens of the world’s greatest jazz musicians to attend, I knew there would be an enthusiastic response. But in 40 years of broadcasting I have never seen nor heard of anything that comes close to the huge outpouring of love and respect for Awilda, and the eagerness to be a part of the celebration.
— Steve Williams, Director of Programming

We hope you'll join us in toasting Awilda - please share your memories below in the comments - and tune in for a great celebration this Friday, June 30 from 8p - 11p!