Pain Relief Beyond Belief





From Blakey to Brown, Como to Costa, Eckstine to Eldridge, Galbraith to Garner, Harris to Hines, Horne to Hyman, Jamal to Jefferson, Kelly to Klook; Mancini to Marmarosa, May to Mitchell, Negri to Nestico, Parlan to Ponder, Reed to Ruther, Strayhorn to Sullivan, Turk to Turrentine, Wade to Williams… the forthcoming publication Treasury of Pittsburgh Jazz Connections by Dr. Nelson Harrison and Dr. Ralph Proctor, Jr. will document the legacy of one of the world’s greatest jazz capitals.


Do you want to know who Dizzy Gillespie  idolized? Did you ever wonder who inspired Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey? Who was the pianist that mentored Monk, Bud Powell, Tad Dameron, Elmo Hope, Sarah Vaughan and Mel Torme? Who was Art Tatum’s idol and Nat Cole’s mentor? What musical quartet pioneered the concept adopted later by the Modern Jazz Quartet? Were you ever curious to know who taught saxophone to Stanley Turrentine or who taught piano to Ahmad Jamal? What community music school trained Robert McFerrin, Sr. for his history-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera? What virtually unknown pianist was a significant influence on young John Coltrane, Shirley Scott, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Timmons and Ray Bryant when he moved to Philadelphia from Pittsburgh in the 1940s?  Would you be surprised to know that Erroll Garner attended classes at the Julliard School of Music in New York and was at the top of his class in writing and arranging proficiency?


Some answers  can be gleaned from the postings on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.


For almost 100 years the Pittsburgh region has been a metacenter of jazz originality that is second to no other in the history of jazz.  One of the best kept secrets in jazz folklore, the Pittsburgh Jazz Legacy has heretofore remained mythical.  We have dubbed it “the greatest story never told” since it has not been represented in writing before now in such a way as to be accessible to anyone seeking to know more about it.  When it was happening, little did we know how priceless the memories would become when the times were gone.


Today jazz is still king in Pittsburgh, with events, performances and activities happening all the time. The Pittsburgh Jazz Network is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the places, artists and fans that carry on the legacy of Pittsburgh's jazz heritage.






Duke Ellington is first African-American and the first musician to solo on U.S. circulating coin



       In Her Own Words
You may already be aware of this -- Save Our WDUQ has decided to organize a boycott, asking everyone who is a member of either WDUQ or WYEP to cancel their membership immediately and not pledge again unless and until Essential Public Media compromises and agrees to keep a substantial amount of jazz on the air at 90.5 FM. 
We see no reason why a one-hour daily call-in show and investigative reporting can't co-exist with jazz. Rather than syndicated NPR programming taking up the majority of DUQ's airtime, we think locally-hosted jazz better serves the identity, diversity and unique cultural heritage of Pittsburgh. We are willing to meet YEP, EPM and the foundations halfway, but we will fight the needless dismantling of Pittsburgh's most listened-to public station -- WDUQ.
Members have already been spontaneously canceling their memberships to both stations.  We are frustrated because we have tried to communicate our concerns and needs to Essential Public Media and they haven't been listening.  Withdrawing our financial support appears to be the only means we have left to influence the future of Pittsburgh's premier public radio station.

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 28, 2011 at 8:55pm


Sally Kalson

The end of WDUQ

I understand why jazz fans are mad, but I'm looking forward to more news

Sunday, June 26, 2011

By Sally Kalson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WDUQ-FM has done a pretty good job of marketing itself over the years as "your" public radio station. It raised considerable money by urging listeners to "take ownership" and support the programs they enjoy.

With contributions from an approving fan base, DUQ was able to present the news, jazz and National Public Radio programs that listeners came to value.

Of course, the ownership angle was always a fundraising tactic. The public did not own the station; Duquesne University did. Never was that more clear than in 2007, when Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania tried to buy an innocuous on-air sponsorship announcement, only to be rebuffed based on Catholic doctrine.

So much for "community radio," critics fumed at the time. They wrote angry letters to the editor and some cut off their contributions.

Now they're fuming again, in a different context. Duquesne is selling the station for $6 million to Essential Public Media, a joint venture of the city's other, smaller public radio station, WYEP-FM, and Public Media Co. The latter is a nonprofit launched by Public Radio Capital, which helps arrange financing for groups that want to buy public stations and operate them as community broadcasters.

At a time when religious groups with deep pockets are snapping up noncommercial licenses as they become available, PRC provides a valuable alternative. Still, the sale has generated a lot of ill will.

I'm not among the critics. In fact, I'm looking forward to what the new station has to offer.

For one thing, there's a lot of good public radio programming out there that is not currently airing in Pittsburgh. But more important, the station will form a news partnership with PublicSource, a new Web-based investigative journalism initiative that is being launched by The Pittsburgh Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

PublicSource will be based at Pittsburgh Filmmakers but will partner with the Post-Gazette and other sources, with the goal of expanding coverage in an age of shrinking newspaper staffing and revenue.

As Pittsburgh Foundation President Grant Oliphant put it, "This is not to say that newspapers aren't doing a good job. They're doing a very good job, but there's only so much they can do with the shrinking space."

PublicSource will be following the lead of ProPublica, another online investigative journalism project that has worked with various publications on stories about banking and mortgage fraud, natural gas drilling practices and other subjects of vital public concern.

How the role of PublicSource will play out remains to be seen, but as someone who values the function of a free press in a democracy, I'm hoping it will be a worthy effort.

Having said that, the controversy over DUQ's new direction shows that the marketing of privately held assets as public ones is a double-edged sword. People who've been urged to "take ownership" through their contributions will want an owner's say in the big decisions. If they don't like how things are going, they are going to make known their displeasure.

The anger stems primarily from two sources. One is the decision to sell the station to the new entity rather than to a group formed by DUQ employees, who made a higher bid and who would have continued things much as they were. The other is the planned reduction of jazz content to a fraction of the current programming.

Jazz fans are understandably upset, and the promise of offering full-time jazz on an HD channel is not placating them. In fact, a group called Jazz Lives in Pittsburgh went so far as to file a complaint about the format change with the Federal Communications Commission. This has virtually no chance of success -- the FCC decides if an operator merits a noncommercial license, but it does not weigh in on programming decisions. Still, the group has made its point.

It is kind of sad that a city like Pittsburgh, birthplace of so many great jazz artists, will have no dedicated jazz station on the airwaves unless another broadcaster wants to pick up the banner. And it will be especially hard on the local music scene, which enjoyed so much support from DUQ's playlist and publicizing of local events.

But research shows that listenership drops precipitously when jazz comes on the air, not just in Pittsburgh but elsewhere. Jazz has a passionate audience, but a small one. Without the sponsorship of a large organization like Duquesne University, a new DUQ would have problems bringing in new members to sustain itself.

This isn't the first time local audiences have felt deserted by broadcasters -- remember WAMO, WQEX, talk radio with Lynn Cullen and Doug Hoerth? -- and it won't be the last. The electronic media in particular can be a fickle and volatile business, promoting its personalities as hometown treasures one day and firing them the next.

Seven DUQ staffers have accepted new jobs with Essential Public Media, and four on-air volunteers will remain as well. That means there will be some continuity after the new station launches on July 1 and moves its operations to WYEP's Community Broadcast Center on the South Side later this summer.

New call letters have yet to be assigned. It may take awhile to grow comfortable with a new handle, but if we can get used to Kaufmann's clock on the Macy's building, we can get used anything.

Sally Kalson is a staff writer and columnist for the Post-Gazette (, 412 263-1610). More articles by this author

First published on June 26, 2011 at 12:00 am

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Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 28, 2011 at 6:11pm

Sorry Charlie,

Your statistics may be quite accurate and inarguable but there are many dimensions of cultural impact that mere profit motivated values do not address.  As far as "news" goes, I have enjoyed some of the editorial items on NPR but I would hardly call them "news."  In a rapidly changing world, listening to the same story all day or sometimes a couple days in succession is not "news" it is "olds."  I get my news from the internet and frequently change stations in my car when I hear a repeated NPR "newscast."  I don't mind at all hearing the same song on the radio, however, because music has no shelf life and once it is good, it is always good.  When I want "olds" I switch to 770 AM and listen to the oldies.  I find myself doing this on most weekends rather then listening to stale editorials on NPR. 


Jazz lovers tend to be tunas with good taste.  There's a lot of propaganda in the corporate controlled media that, though it might taste good, it is still crap.  Like most fast food it will eventually make you sick or at best keep you uninformed. 


Thanks to all the jazz supporters, musicians and fans who have expressed their opinions on this issue.  Don't stop.  You can do it here if nowhere else.  While you are online, stop by this network and enjoy the photos, videos and sounds that you won't find anywhere else.  We are promoting the Pittsburgh Jazz Sound and related stories here without the need to capitulate to the profit motive.


Sorry, Charlie.

Comment by Mary Barr on June 28, 2011 at 6:08pm

Charlie Humphrey is the director of PublicSource, a new on-line journalism project that will partner with 90.5 FM and is funded by The Pittsburgh Foundation, which is also funding the station's purchase.  Altough basic journalism ethics require a writer to mention personal financial interests relevant to the subject of a piece, Mr. Humphrey neglects to do that. 

Comment by Dr. Nelson Harrison on June 28, 2011 at 5:48pm

Sorry, jazz lovers

But I'm looking forward to more news on the former WDUQ

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

By Charlie Humphrey

I'm learning a whole new way to argue, or as I prefer to put it, make up stuff. A recent letter to the editor in the Post-Gazette about the sale of WDUQ states that "jazz [is] inarguably the most influential cultural innovation of the 20th century." Hum. Inarguably. Well, that pretty much ends the conversation.

But I'll argue it anyway. I think the crown of cultural innovation should go to the civil rights movement, or rock and roll, or penicillin or Pee Wee Herman. What about Prince, or the Hula Hoop? What about Shirley Temple, or the Wizard of Oz? What about Elvis? I think we need an all-Elvis radio station here, and I also think it is my God-given right to have one. Porky Chedwick, where are you?

Jazz radio in Western Pennsylvania is unsustainable. Duquesne University was subsidizing WDUQ with hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. How can jazz listeners actually believe they are entitled to that level of subsidy from a private university?

For those listeners who want to argue jazz is critical to our cultural fabric, I have a few points to make.

According to January 2010 Arbitron ratings (Arbitron is the company most used to monitor radio usage), WDUQ was ranked No. 5 among all local radio stations in the market during morning drive time, when NPR's Morning Edition is aired. During morning drive time, 90.5 is right up there with behemoths like WDVE and KDKA.

Now, what is WDUQ's ranking at 10 a.m., when jazz is in full swing? No. 15. You can practically hear radio receivers being turned off around Western Pennsylvania when jazz follows news and information.

Is jazz a great art form? Well, I'd say that's undeniable, er, inarguable. But figuring out how to pay for it is another matter.

Historically, single-format news and information public radio stations outperform mixed-format radio stations in every single major market in the United States. They outperform in the number of listeners, the amount raised from listeners and the amount raised from corporate underwriting. As of this writing, there is only one major market with a mixed-format NPR station and that station is in Atlanta. The format is classical and NPR.

A challenge: Name all the full-time jazz clubs in Pittsburgh. Go ahead, I'm waiting. Little E's, perhaps. That's about it. But there is, sadly, a very long list of jazz clubs that have opened and closed over the past 25 years. Why? For all the grumbling, not enough people go to jazz clubs. Oh, and these clubs came and went while WDUQ was programming a lot of jazz.

So from my perspective it's inarguable: If a listener is serious about jazz, and not just about complaining about the loss of it on terrestrial radio, then a little personal initiative is in order. A trip to a big-box retailer buys you 24/7 access to jazz (in the form of an HD receiver) for less than an annual pledge to a public radio station. There is all the jazz you can eat, and it isn't remotely hard to find.

Now, go find me a richer radio source for 24-hour, in-depth regional, national and international reporting on our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the environment, government, health care, culture and public safety.

On July 1, you will find only one of these cultural innovations in our region: the new 90.5 and National Public Radio.

Charlie Humphrey is executive director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts (

First published on June 28, 2011 at 12:00 am

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Comment by Mary Barr on June 13, 2011 at 12:29am
Those of you on Facebook, please visit our page, Save Our WDUQ, for details about the boycott and other actions you can take.  It will help if you "like" our page and leave a comment expressing your opinion on why it's important to keep our city's only jazz station on the air.  We need the help of the whole jazz community to spread the word and make this effort succeed!
Comment by Moe Seager on June 12, 2011 at 12:52pm
Indeed, I fully agree with the Keeping Pittsburgh programming and of all, Jazz! I'll be in Pgh. in 2 weeks and will be active with this campaign. Moe Seager, former producer, broadcaster, WYEP 1973-76 / 1987-1990. WBAI New York 1989-91.
Comment by Barb on June 11, 2011 at 2:29am
Hmm, I've been thinking hard about whether to do this or not, since the news about the limited amount of jazz that would be aired on the new 90.5 came out. I have mixed feelings, since I don't think that YEP/EPM have bad intentions and many of my friends who do not care about jazz are thrilled with the plan for a new type of station. However, I really am having a problem with EPM not paying much attention to a large part of DUQ's audience. For now I would probably be willing to support a boycott for a period of time, partially because I have come to find much of YEP's programming as too regimented and bland, and partly because I am upset about  their destroying a station I feel very strongly about, plus a lack of respect for that wonderful type of music called jazz) with little willingness to compromise.  So I guess that I am willing to state to them that I will not be sending them any more money. It's incredibly frustrating to me that so many of us sent extra money to DUQ last year, in the hopes that it would become an independent NPR station and I wish they would have taken this into consideration!   thanks for your efforts in support of jazz.
Comment by Mary Barr on June 11, 2011 at 2:12am
And please spread the word about this boycott!

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