By David Sparks, KPR Volunteer
Another facet of Kansas Public Radio’s programming has been recognized for excellence. JazzWeek Magazine has chosen KANU as one of three Station of the Year award winners, this one in the category of stations programming fewer than 40 hours of jazz a week.
“It’s especially gratifying as it is chosen by professionals in jazz radio,” notes Bob McWilliams, KPR Director of Jazz. “To receive this honor from one’s peers is quite meaningful for me.”
Actually, it’s the second time KPR has won the award, the first being received in 2006 for the (no longer used) category of Small Market Station of the Year.
Jazz has been a part of KPR since the late Dick Wright began a jazz show on KANU in the 1950s. “When I was an undergraduate at KU in the mid 1970s, I got my own jazz education from Dick Wright hosting The Jazz Scene, as well as the late Bob Hammond hosting Jazz in the Night,” McWilliams recalls.
KPR’s approach to jazz includes a wide variety of styles from many eras, rooted in the classic sounds of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and the Blue Note label’s enduring recordings of the 1950s and '60s. What makes KPR distinctive from many jazz stations is the way it highlights new, live and local music, says McWilliams. “We place a special emphasis on artists from the rich Kansas City jazz scene of today, and on great jazz performers visiting the area, as well as the performances recorded live in the KPR studios.”
McWilliams hosts Jazz in the Night on KPR Mondays through Thursdays from 9 to midnight and Fridays from 9 to 10 p.m. David Basse hosts The Jazz Scene Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. KPR also presents European Jazz Stage, a series of live performances from Europe, Saturday nights from 10 to 11, and Sunday mornings from 6 to 7.
And the jazz doesn’t stop there, says McWilliams. “Overnight seven days a week we have Jazz With David Basse, a syndicated jazz show that just happens to feature our Jazz Scene host. Plus, The Retro Cocktail Hour, hosted by Darrell Brogdon Saturdays at 7 p.m. and repeated Fridays at 10 p.m., has a good deal of jazz content.”