Sunday, July 31, 2005

My Visit to the Jazz Station--July 29

I'm on the tail end of the a three week vacation--er--trip to Washington State. Back up with the family now and we're in Spokane Washington. Spokane is just about 15 miles east of Cheney, the home of Eastern Washington University.

I got both my bachelors and masters degree at EWU. And since it had been awhile since I visited out there, I was glad that my wife told me on our first day here that while the kids were sleeping I should go on out there and look around.

So, of course the first place I went to was the RTV Department, where I spent so much of my time during my time at EWU. I got my bachelors in RTV Management and Sales--with all the classes here in this building. When I got my masters in Communications, I was a graduate teaching assistant--teaching Intro to Production classes.

Here's a picture of the building, which looks just the same except the parking lot has finally been paved. For years and years it was a dusty gravel mess.

The Department has taken itself in a new curricular direction, now focusing much more on film-style production. Much of that has to do with the strengths of the faculty, including the chair Marvin Smith (the guy who really pushed me to pursue my doctorate if I wanted to continue in the world of academe), Tom Mullins (someone who they hired just before I left for IU), and the late David Terwische. Here's another link about David.

This new direction seems to be working well for them, too.

About the only thing that remains which is at all familiar to me is KEWU, the jazz radio station that originates a 10K watt signal from a studio in the first floor. I was actually the first announcer voice on the station--on a night sometime in 1986, I suppose. I was called in by Marvin and told that the station had to begin broadcasting. He gave me a long computer print out of the CD catalog and pretty much set me loose. Pretty unfamiliar territory for a kid who had never even thought about jazz in his life--I wanted to be a CHR dj! So, I remember looking for names I recognized and was disappointed that the only two were Sade and Stevie Ray Vaughn!!

Anyway, maybe I'll share some funny stories about my first broadcast on KEWU some other time. But, during my visit I found one lone person sitting behind a desk in an office.

Turns out that this person was the program director, Elizabeth Farriss. After loitering around for long enough, I finally got up the nerve to ask her if I could take a picture of her and her office. We had a very nice time talking about jazz (although she obviously knows a lot more about it than I do) and she allowed me to reminisce about my days at the jazz station (although I did not remember to tell her that the original on-air moniker was "Cityscape.")

She even allowed me to take a picture of the studio, which now is turned 90-degrees to the left from where I used to sit. In the picture you can see

a tape player in the bottom right hand of the screen (behind the stack of CDs). It was one of three that were in the original station--and really the only piece of equipment I recognized from the old studio. . . except the board, which was purchased new at the time.

The station has grown tremendously in its reputation, and was recently awarded

the Small Market Station of the Year from Jazz Week.

Congratulations to them, and thanks to Beth for her hospitality. Beth, by the way, won the Jazz Week award for Small Market PD of the year.

I encourage those of you who want to hear some great jazz, check out KEWU online (congrats to Marvin and Beth and whomever else was responsible for getting the stream online)!

Check the station out here.

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