Hot Jazz Saturday Night Cancelled After 38 Years-Petition Started to Save it.

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Editors Note: Our publisher, Andy Senior, doubles as the host of the Radiola! podcast which at times in the past has been a terrestrial show spinning hot jazz and other music of the 20’s-40’s. He’s also known Mr. Bamberger for years. Read Andy’s feelings about this cancelation in his Static From My Attic intro to our July Issue.

Original Story:

Radios across Washington and computers around the world were tuned into WAMU to hear Hot Jazz Saturday Night hosted by Rob Bamberger. The show has been an island of good music in an ocean of talk, and a staple of the airwaves for 38 years. Nine minutes into his third hour he broke the news. The show has been canceled to make room for more syndicated programming. The final show will air the evening of June 23rd.

As part of his statement, Bamberger noted a fear at public radio stations that “anything having the scent of jazz” will alienate a younger audience and associate their brand with a stodginess they are trying to flee. Bamberger also notes that stations perceive music shows, once a staple of public broadcasting, as “format breakers,” interruptions of what should be a 24-hour news and information service. This thinking has led to the demise of many locally produced music programs over the last decade. Another assumption made by programming managers is that with streaming services catering to even highly specific musical tastes there is no need for knowledgeable DJ’s to curate music shows.

You can listen to his on-air statement here. He calmly discusses the trends he and many other hosts of “legacy” music programs are facing, and why he disagrees with the station’s decision.

After the broadcast Rob Bamberger posted this announcement on the Hot Jazz Saturday Night Facebook Page.

“In the likely (and understandable) event you were watching the Caps play tonight instead of listening to HJSN, I wanted to share with you that WAMU announced earlier this evening a slate of upcoming program changes. Among them is the cancellation of Hot Jazz Saturday Night. My last broadcast will be on June 23rd. You can find a link to the station’s press release on the home page,

The station will be moving LIVE FROM HERE, the successor to A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION, to air 8:00-10:00, followed by LIVE WIRE, at 10:00 P.M. Judy Carmichael’s JAZZ INSPIRED will be replaced with an additional hour of news from the BBC.

If you wish to hear my comment from this evening’s program, it begins roughly ten minutes into the final hour. The program stream should be available tomorrow. I will try to arrange for it to be excerpted, with a separate link, on Monday.

I am seeing so many wonderful expressions of sorrow and support. Thank you all.

Hundreds of comments have already been left expressing disbelief at the shows passing. The following, from Dennis White, is typical:

(Excerpt) WAMU obviously has no clue as to the “depth” of your show. It is musical history, cultural connectivity, community and so much more. To reduce it to merely a “record program” is insulting. The heart and soul you put into researching and producing this show and your depth of knowledge was understood and appreciated a thousand fold by those in the audience who “get it”.

Here is the relevant portion of the programming changes announcement from WAMU

Unfortunately, these new additions mean eliminating some current programs, including our Saturday evening jazz programming. Hot Jazz Saturday Night, which was created, produced and hosted by Rob Bamberger, will air its final three-hour episode on June 23, 2018. After 38 years and nearly 2,000 episodes, this original WAMU program has had an impressive run. While it is sad to say goodbye to a legacy program, we know each generation of shows paves the way for the next, and all of those that have come before have made the station what it is today. Rob Bamberger’s dedication to Hot Jazz Saturday Night will continue to be valued well beyond his tenure on the air, because Rob and the show are part of WAMU’s foundation.

Additionally, Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired, a nationally distributed show which aired as a fourth-hour of jazz programming after Hot Jazz Saturday Night, will also end on June 23.

A petition to save the show was initiated by John Hasse in early June on and has garnered thousands of signatures.

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16 thoughts on “Hot Jazz Saturday Night Cancelled After 38 Years-Petition Started to Save it.”

  1. I’m incredulous that WAMU is cancelling Hot Jazz Saturday Night, which has so long been a true labor of love for its host and producer, Rob Bamberger. Jazz is just starting to find a younger audience and HJSN is needed now more than ever. Classic hot jazz has to be playing somewhere in order to be heard and discovered by new listeners. And if any place needed good jazz right now, it’s Washington, DC–the epicenter of discord and dysfunction.

  2. One of the reasons I developed a broad appreciation of older music as an early teenager was a local radio station that played music of the 30’s and 40’s in the evening. As I’d get dropped off or picked up it was always on in the car, and much more memorable then the top 40. Now that station just repeats the daytime news programming before switching over to BBC for the overnight.

    Public radio once held up jazz as a public good and our national inheritance. It still is. They shouldn’t focus on ratings, the point is to make sure it’s available to everyone. SOBs (Symphony, Orchestra, Ballet) could never support themselves but are maintained, rightly, because they’re presence enriches our society. The availability of hot jazz on a Saturday night, just by tuning in your radio dial, is equally important.

    Many of the other music shows that linger as “format breakers” have their own local significance. In my area there are shows of Polish and Italian music that have been on the radio for decades. Their knowledgeable hosts able to explain the music to an inquisitive audience growing more culturally removed with each generation. What people learn from those radio hosts can’t be replaced by a Wikipedia page or typing “polka” into Pandora. The same is true for traditional jazz.

    We are swamped with options for news coverage, we are desperately short of opportunities for passionate experts to pass our cultural heritage on to the next generation.

    1. WFUV likely has no interest in continuing that format, or they would have found a replacement host when Conaty died. They saw it as a chance to insert programming more in line with who they perceive their listeners to be without having to fire a beloved host.

  3. Hot jazz sat nite is the only reason I listen & contribute to wamu the other stuff I can find anywhere. The management obviously doesn’t,know what a treasure they have in Rob Bam Berger. I hope another station with more enlightened leaders will take advantage of the opportunity.

    1. I too listen and contribute to WAMU because of HJSN. Without it, WAMU’s schedule looks practically identical to my local NPR stations, which I can listen to over the air. So I may as well be contributing to one of them instead.

  4. Jazz is still appreciated by younger audiences and has a great future. Many college stations still host Jazz programs and there’s a lot of interest among younger musicians., especially in urban areas. So, I don’t understand WAMU’s logic.

  5. Maybe Pacifica radio has a place for you. They play Jazz. I hope you can get a show back soon.
    Can’t believe Jazz is a negative. Shame on those people.
    I sure won’t be listening as much as before.

  6. Our other public radio station WETA dropped classical music in favor of news talk about ten years ago
    It was a disaster for them and they had to switch back
    Maybe WAMU will suffer the same fate and have to return to jazz music

  7. So sad. As the former manager of Spokane Public Radio (Spokane WA), I offer this. Jazz on the radio is not dead. SPR still runs a fair amount of jazz, locally curated and otherwise. And our little ol’ town also sports a full-time jazz station from Eastern Washington University. The format should not, and will not die. Thank you, Rob for all those great years!

  8. I, Too, am disgusted at this move. I have been listening to HJSN for all of the 38 years, and missed a show only when I was away and could not receive the broadcast. I agree with those who say that now, nothing will set WAMU apart from the other NPR stations. I Play jazz locally, and am considered an expert by my peers mainly due to my 38 years of listening to HJSN. Rob, I will miss you, and hope you find another venue where I can continue to listen to you.

  9. “Disgusting’ is the only word that comes to mind in connection with this cancellation. HJSN is as far as I am concerned the crown jewel of WAMU and the ONLY reason I give money. The rest of the programming is rapidly becoming the same endless yakking interrupted by commercials as the rest of the media (organizing principle: let’s not ruffle too many feathers). As if losing Diane Rheem was not enough. Rob Bamberger represents one of the few shreds of nobility left. Shame for even thinking of canceling.

  10. I began listening to Hot Jazz 38 years ago, when it originated. Yes, I know, that makes me an old man—the unwanted fly in the caldron of babble that public radio has become. The self-assured yakking young twits who wouldn’t know Benny Carter from Benny Goodman or Jimmie Lunceford from Jimmy Carter could have perhaps learned something about culture and music—something of true value—but that was a futile dream. WMAU was chockfull of music 38 years ago, a safe harbor in a sea of pompous political posturing. Hot Jazz was the sole survivor. But now…so sad. I have discontinued my monthly contribution.

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