Recently I made mention in this forum that WBEZ-FM, the Chicago public radio station that has featured fine jazz programming hosted by Dick Buckley, had announced its plan to replace all jazz programming with "talk radio". Apparently neither the music nor the insights about performers and composers that Buckley provided has any appeal to the demographic the station is seeking. The target group they hope to please with an all talk format is the same group of young people which J.A. notes have been declining in the Stereophile subscribers list.
Today's Chicago Tribune included an op. ed. piece on this subject by Jack Fuller, the author of the jazz novel "The Best of Jackson Payne" and a former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Mr. Fuller is also a former member of the Pulitzer Board and, in that role, was instrumental in opening the prize to improvised music.
He points to the irony of the WBEZ announcement coming on the heels of Thelonious Monk being awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his compositions; and he notes that, while Monk's tunes have become lasting standards, at the time they were written they seemed to many to be downright crazy - just as Beethoven's music had in his era.
Wouldn't it be encouraging if some of today's young jazzmen, inspired by Monk's award, would enter some of their work and gain the benefits of winning such a prize? Wouldn't it be still better if quality music enjoyed some popular support? There is, at the elitist level, recognition that jazz is as much a bona fide art form as the contemporary art music being featured at most symphonic venues, but does that make any difference in today's society? In seeking an audience that would support their continued existence, WBEZ didn't decide to concentrate on some other musical genre, they went for the talk format - no music at all.
Consider the ridiculous state of affairs that couples affordable hardware capable of reproducing music better than anything available a few years ago with an apparent widespread public disinterest in music and musicianship per se.
I need some of you young guys to tell me why I shouldn't find this depressing.