It seemed for a few years that jazz on the radio was doomed to isolation on niche FM stations with weak signals and short wavelengths. As rock, pop, rap and hip-hop shouldered aside the attraction of jazz for mass audiences, the music all but disappeared from AM radio.
Then, the internet made it possible for radio stations to stream their programming around the globe. Jim Wilke, whose Jazz Northwest programs we sometimes tell you about in advance, is a veteran jazz broadcaster who long ago took to the air via satellite and reaches a huge international audience with Jazz After Hours. Erik Lacitis of The Seattle Times recently profiled Wilke. His story includes a little about Wilke’s modus operandi and a lot about the impact of his work on listeners in all parts of the US as well as in Tunis, Ankara and Paris, among other places. Lacitis takes us on a visit to the studio in Wilke’s house.
It is in this basement that Wilke — in a voice variously described as “butter smooth” and “sonorous” — records shows that run Friday and Saturday nights around the country on 70 radio stations, and with the Internet, throughout the world.