30 Years of Eric Jackson E
ric Jackson celebrates 30 years of hosting his own jazz show on WGBH Radio in May. Long considered Boston’s “dean of jazz radio,” Jackson has more recently gained a national and international following with the addition 89.7 WGBH’s live radio streaming. We recently chatted with Eric about his 30th anniversary on 89.7 WGBH.
Q: How did you get your start in radio? A: I saw an ad in BU’s campus paper for radio announcers, no experience necessary. I thought it would be fun to do while I was in school. So I started doing radio, and at the same time my love of jazz increased. I reached a point where I knew this was it. Q: After 30 years, how do you feel about doing the same job? A: I love the music so much, it makes it easy to get up and listen. It’s a job I still enjoy and am able to do, so I don’t see any reason for me to stop. Q: How do you prepare for your shows? A: I prepare for my show the same way a jazz musician does. Jazz is improvisational music, but the best jazz musicians practice and work on their craft all day long. And that’s basically what I do. I spend most of the day listening to the new releases, or if I’m working on something like my Sunday night Artist Spotlight, I’m digging up pieces. Then, while I’m doing the show, I’m putting pieces together by moods, feelings, or even aural connections.
Q: Tell us about your most memorable interviews? A: I’ve really enjoyed interviewing Wynton Marsalis. He used to be extremely controversial because he was very outspoken about his dislike of fusion and “free” jazz, and I remember the ﬁrst couple of interviews I did with him, it seemed like every phone in the studio would light up. They would be split about 50-50 between “throw the bum out on his head right now!” and “this is absolutely great!” Continued on back page
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Q: How has social media helped enhance your program? A: I have a Facebook page, and I do post a lot of my Sunday Night Spotlights, though I post them literally right before I go on the air, at about two minutes to 10pm, and say I’m about to start a special on so and so. And I found that I have gotten responses immediately from people saying, “I’m there, I’m checking it out.” Q: What role does WGBH play in Boston’s jazz community? A: WGBH is major in Boston’s jazz community. This is where a lot of people get information about new releases, about re-issues, and about who’s coming to town. My show is completely booked up for interviews two months out, so I think the jazz community deﬁnitely sees us as a valuable place to be. Musicians and authors know that the WGBH audience not only will listen to the music, but also is interested in ﬁnding out more about it.
Miles of Great Music
In late May, Eric Jackson’s Sunday Night Spotlight will feature music by jazz great Miles Davis. The May 22 program will focus on Davis’s earlier acoustic work; May 29 will feature music from later in his career with his electrified trumpet. Tune in 89.7 WGBH, from 10pm to midnight.
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You’re Invited: Al Vega Trio
Tuesday, June 7, 9pm, WGBH Studios, Brighton Inspired by Thelonious Monk, 88-year-old Al Vega is a master at piano and vibraphone. He and his trio perform jazz standards. Admission is free to WGBH Jazz Club members. Call 617-300-3505 or email email@example.com to reserve your seats.