Public radio station WUSF 89.7-FM plans to pull the plug on “All Night Jazz,” a tradition that has endured for 56 years.
Loyal fans of the “oasis” of jazz music on the local radio scene have started a petition urging management to save the show.
Back in 1966, television writer and producer George Geiger, who was then a University of South Florida student, created “Jazz Night” and became its first DJ until he graduated in 1969. Geiger went on to write for TV shows such as “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” and “Simon and Simon.” He also was the co-executive producer for several episodes of “Miami Vice” in 1987.
Geiger, who died in 2022 at the age of 74, often told friends that creating “Jazz Night” and his pioneering efforts to get jazz on the air was one of his proudest accomplishments.
According to WUSF, the show was kept alive by one of its earliest listeners: avid supporter Vic Hall, who was a frequent guest on the show and filled in as jazz host for more than 30 years. As jazz director from 1981-2016, Bob Seymour filled the airwaves with the music of local artists, inviting them in for live performances and promoting where they could be found playing around town.
The show eventually became “All Night Jazz” and aired music and interviews with local artists and guests from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Earlier this year, it was cut down to three hours, from 9 p.m. to midnight. The show was most recently run by jazz director Mike Cornette, who retired last year, and his hosting slot was filled by DJ Steve Splane.
WUSF’s General Manager JoAnn Urofsky told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that the jazz show “will be replaced with great public radio programs beginning Monday, October 31.” Those programs include the news program “1A Plus,” the current affairs show “As It Happens” and the second hour of “Science Friday,” which highlights entertaining stories about science and technology. “The changes mean WUSF 89.7 will become entirely focused on news and information, including weather and safety, so we can better serve the residents of Florida.”
But loyal fans of the jazz show are putting up a fight.
Pablo Arencibia, a jazz piano adjunct professor at USF, started a petition on Change.org asking WUSF to keep “All Night Jazz” on the air. The petition drew more than 765 signers, and it has raised $1,139 in less than a day, Arencibia said.
“Letting ‘All Night Jazz’ die will impact the jazz music scene in Tampa significantly and will deprive thousands of loyal listeners of this oasis on the local radio,” Arencibia said. “The community is putting together a lot of energy to fight against this decision we consider to be damaging for the art and music scene in Tampa Bay.”
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Calls and emails from the Tampa Bay Times to Urofsky have not yet been returned.