Readers sound off about WBEZ

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Last week’s column – “Will WBEZ tune back in to jazz?” – sparked passionate response from readers. Following are edited highlights:

Bring back jazz

I stood up and cheered at my breakfast table while reading your column today. You captured every bit of my sentiments about the loss of real jazz programming on WBEZ for the last seven years. When those changes were implemented, I wrote to (WBEZ president) Torey Malatia, expressing much the same concerns that you've outlined. In return, I received a letter proclaiming how much better the new approach would be, as we would all see. Ha! I immediately stopped contributing to WBEZ and transferred my annual donation to WDCB, which, luckily, I can receive pretty well in the northwest suburbs. Thank you for expressing my hope, voiced to friends, when Malatia's departure was announced, that there will be a return to the excellent jazz programming that used to be a big part of WBEZ's claim to fame. I hope that the powers that be will take your advice to heart.

-- Linda Korbel, Palatine

Calling for folk

I read your article this morning – to my mind, the real “four-letter word” at WBEZ is “folk.” Other cities' public radio stations have a plethora of folk/acoustic music programming, and WBEZ has none. For that, I have to listen to WDCB (if I can get it) and once-a-week “The Midnight Special” on WFMT.

I always thought public radio was a place where programming decisions could be made not because the programs were profitable, but because there was no place else on the dial to hear them. Yes, Chicago is a jazz town, but there is a long and honorable history of acoustic singer/songwriters, and quite a lot of great folk music around here. We hear none of that on WBEZ.

-- Anita Silvert, Northbrook

Re-broadcast Dick Buckley

Thank you for your great article about how WBEZ failed its jazz listeners. I was a huge fan of Dick Buckley's broadcasts, and so too were my 7-year-old triplet kids. Every weekend in the car we'd listen to the wonderful stories and records Buckley would spin. I would love it if WBEZ played Buckley's old programs. They were truly timeless.

-- Matthew Lynch, Chicago

A jazz companion

Your article (on) the loss of jazz on WBEZ was so appreciated. It is the sentiment that we, the listeners, have had resonating in our subconscious for years! How really shameful to have lost such a dynamic programming icon, especially in the Chicagoland area.

After very long days spent with my dad during his chemo treatments, I would always tune in to the WBEZ nighttime jazz program as my companion for the long hour-ride home. As a youngster, dad always had Dick Buckley and his deep, soothing voice introducing or relating a story of some sort, tuned in. How I miss that program. Hopefully, someone with programming savvy will heed your wise words of advice.

-- Susan Wunder, Orland Park

A broadcasting bore

(Torey) Malatia swept away several lovely Sunday evening shows: “The Thistle & Shamrock,” Stuart Rosenberg's shows, “Earth Club” and “Radio Gumbo” – shows which were beautifully eclectic and educational as well. Gone also was “The Folk Sampler,” showcasing folk, bluegrass and blues. I wept at losing Marian McPartland and, finally, the greatest jazz educator ever, Dick Buckley. I thought that Dick Buckley died of a broken heart.

Variety is the spice of life and Malatia turned WBEZ into a one-ingredient bore. Let’s hope that his successor has some vision.

-- Mary Ann Sumner, Miller Beach, IN

New blood at WBEZ

Thank you for your column about WBEZ. I was very upset when (Torey Malatia) excised jazz from WBEZ's programming and sent him an email to register my concern. That's when I ceased contributing to the station. I share your hope that a new executive will be more sensitive to Chicago's music history and reflect it in more appropriate programming.

-- Judy Graf, Chicago

Needling WBEZ

My wife and I want to enthusiastically thank you for your recent column about the misdirected past several years at WBEZ. You spoke both to us and for us. We were happy to be supporting members of WBEZ until jazz was taken off the air and the mind-numbing talk, talk, talk took over. We complained, withdrew our membership, but that mattered little. Please continue to report on and needle WBEZ to go in a more classic Chicago Public Radio direction.

-- Richard Wendel, Chicago

A lost gem

You hit the nail right on the head. I was so disappointed (when) WBEZ dropped its jazz, and I agree, the programming that replaced it was terrible. And where could else could one be introduced to the likes of Marian McPartland? WBEZ had a great program, and I am hoping that your column is giving the folks at the station pause and (that it) seriously considers bringing jazz back. The Chicago area lost a great cultural gem when jazz left ‘BEZ.

-- Jean Johnson, Mt. Prospect

Disbelief at WBEZ

As a longtime listener to WBEZ and a fan of Dick Buckley and Larry Smith, I couldn't believe when jazz was taken off of the air. How could a city as great as Chicago not have a radio station playing jazz?

-- Tom Hampton, Merrillville, IN

Filling the void

The abandonment of the jazz format left a huge void. Replacing it with redundant talk was folly. The station lost its uniqueness. WBEZ was my favorite station until the change. Hopefully the new leadership will embrace the feedback for quality jazz genre.

-- Lynda Burman, Kenosha, WI.

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