TAMPA — The decision to end the radio show “All Night Jazz” after 56 years at WUSF 89.7-FM drew jazz fans to the University of South Florida station on Thursday.
The station announced last week that starting Monday, the late-night jazz show would be replaced by news and public affairs programming.
Shortly after, local jazz fans started a petition on Change.org asking WUSF to keep “All Night Jazz” on the air. The petition attracted over 3,000 signatories and raised $4,500 to maintain jazz programming. On Thursday, nearly 30 loyal followers, including recently retired WUSF jazz director Mike Cornette, who said he was “heartbroken,” showed up at the station to draw attention to the show’s demise.
Acme Jazz Garage bassist Philip Booth started a support website called savewusfjazz.com to gather help from the music world. Those paying attention include famed jazz and fusion guitarist, author and musician Ted Gioia, John McLaughlin and Grammy-nominated composer and frontman of Jazz Surge, Chuck Owen, who said he was “completely stunned” by the decision.
JoAnn Urofsky, chief executive of WUSF, said jazz programming is moving from WUSF 89.7-FM to a new all-digital, highly social platform powered by its creative hub, ArtsAxis Florida, on artsaxisfl.org.
“Our jazz programming will always be available to our listeners 24 hours a day,” Urofsky said. “On this digital platform, jazz will grow 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 premiered in 1966, one of the few hubs not just for music, but also for 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, adjunct professor of jazz piano at USF who helped organize the gathering.