TAMPA — The decision to end the “All Night Jazz” radio show after 56 years at WUSF 89.7-FM drew jazz fans to the station at the University of South Florida on Thursday.
The station announced that last week that as of Monday, the late-night jazz show would be replaced with news and public affairs programming.
Soon after, local jazz fans started a petition on Change.org asking WUSF to keep “All Night Jazz” on the air. The petition drew more than 3,000 signers, and it has raised $4,500 to keep jazz programming. On Thursday close to 30 loyal followers, including recently retired WUSF jazz director Mike Cornette, who said he is “heartbroken,” showed up at the station to call attention to the show’s demise.
Philip Booth, bass player of Acme Jazz Garage band, put together a support website called savewusfjazz.com to collect support around the music world. Those paying attention include John McLaughlin, noted jazz and fusion guitarist, author and musician Ted Gioia and Chuck Owen, composer and Grammy-nominated leader of Jazz Surge, who said he “completely stunned” by the decision.
JoAnn Urofsky, WUSF’s general manager, said jazz programming is moving from WUSF 89.7-FM to a new platform that is all-digital, highly social and powered by its creative hub, ArtsAxis Florida, at artsaxisfl.org.
“Our jazz programming will still be available to our listeners 24 hours a day,” Urofsky said. “On this digital platform, jazz will expand tremendously, as it allows for the addition of music, videos, podcasts, as well as live jazz events and performances.”
But jazz fans called the show, which was created in 1966, one of the few hubs for not only music but also interviews with local jazz artists and news of where they could be found playing around town.
“The online substitute for ‘All Night Jazz’ is not comparable to a radio show,” said Pablo Arencibia, a jazz piano adjunct professor at USF who helped organize the rally.