The V.O.A. on short-wave radio and, in particular, the jazz presented by Willis Conover was top of our listening list as U.K. students in the late 1950’s. Starved of American artists in the U.K because of the Musician’s Union Ban, this was one way of our hearing the best U.S. jazz of the day.The programmes did a great deal to influence my musical taste and sow the seeds of a lifetime commitment to ‘America’s Music’.
When the band exchanges started during that period John Dankworth took his band to a festival in New Jersey and reported back with one revelation: “Willis Conover talks in the same careful, almost pedantic, way in real life”. Later Dankworth had to pay out of his own pocket for records by his band and Cleo Laine, sent to V.O.A. and played by Willis Conover. The U.K. record company (EMI) regarded V.O.A. as irrelevant to their marketing!
Gordon Sapsed in the U.K.