Art & Life

Jazz support drives music education

PHOTO BY JESSICA MCWILLIAMS
Ron Adkins Music Producer and Dennis Green General Manager on the air during KCCK's telathon on Oct.16.

Last Friday, Oct. 18 marked the end of KCCK’s pledge drive, a semiannual event that helps bring in support for Kirkwood Community College’s resident broadcast radio station 88.3 FM, and Iowa’s only jazz radio station.

KCCK began in the early 1970’s when a group of engineering students at Kirkwood re- paired a non-working radio transmitter donated by KUNI, Iowa Public Radio, as a class project.

“They repaired this transmitter and got it so that it was functional again. They applied for and received an experimental FM radio license, lit it up and put it on the air periodically. In 1975 we got our permanent license and became a part of the public broadcasting system,” said Dennis Green, general manager and writer at KCCK.

Students who helped found the radio station would later graduate from Kirkwood and go on to find careers putting the skills they gained to use.

“Broadcast radio is still a vital and grow- ing medium and it’s worth learning about and listening to…the idea of a human being curating the songs and hosting them live, put- ting music out over the air because it means something to them is a valuable model that we would like to keep going. It’s an art form.”

– Dennis Green General Manager 88.3 KCCK

“I’ve talked with a couple of those former students a few times over the years, several of them ended up having careers at Rock- well in the radio and engineering department there,” said Green.

A decade later, KCCK decided to become a dedicated full-time jazz station due to the popularity of the weekly programming.

“Well you know that jazz show that we do on the week- nights is awful popular, what if we just did jazz? This was in the mid-80’s and we’ve been a jazz station ever since,” Green continued.

According to KCCK’s web- site, jazz is America’s only indigenous musical art form. Sup- port from contributions collected during this season’s pledge drive will help keep the station playing this music for Iowans, in addition to so much more.

Green explained, “Over the last several years we have gotten very involved in music education. As an organization we decided, while it was awesome being just a jazz radio station…because we are part of Kirkwood and education is our mission, we expand- ed beyond just playing jazz on the radio and took the project on of supporting and offering jazz education programs to the community. Right now, we have a three-pronged jazz education program that begins with elementary school and goes all the way through high school and college, and actually serves about 5,000 students a year.”

One of those programs sup- ported during this year’s pledge drive was the Corridor Jazz Project, which pairs 14 high school jazz bands with guest artists to record songs in a studio and produce professional CDs that can be used for fundraising.

“The Iowa Band Master’s Association called this the crown jewel of jazz education in the state of Iowa. We use Kirkwood faculty for corridor jazz artists sometimes and there is now a pipeline that’s developed where the high school jazz bands come into the Kirkwood music pro- gram,” Green added.

KCCK also provides opportunities to Kirkwood students to get involved in the world of radio broadcasting and music education through volunteer opportunities and internships.

“Students are welcome to come and volunteer. They can apply to be DJ’s on the station. We have one Kirkwood student on the air right now. The other opportunity for Kirkwood students to get involved is, if they have an interest in education, particularly music education, there is an opportunity to get involved as a helper at Corridor Jazz or as a camp counselor at Jazz Band Camp. The Kirkwood band usually brings in a guest artist, who works with students for a few days,” Green explained.

Now that the pledge drive has ended, Kirkwood students are encouraged to begin applying now, as new opportunities are just around the corner.

“Our primary volunteer opportunity times are usually January through March, which is Corridor Jazz time. Summer is our busiest time because of the events and jazz camp, we usually bring in a couple of station interns, at least two every summer,” Green added.

In addition to providing opportunities to students at Kirk- wood and beyond, these pledge drives help KCCK continue to preserve the art of jazz in a rapidly changing media landscape.

“We think that broadcast radio is still a vital and growing medium and it’s worth learning about and listening to. We think that the idea of a human being cu- rating the songs and hosting them live, putting music out over the air because it means something to them is a valuable model that we would like to keep going. It’s an art form,” Green said.

Listening habits have changed a lot over the years. Ac- cording to Billboard.com, more music consumers, especially younger listeners, are leaving radio to listen on their mobile de- vices. KCCK was an early adopt- er of these changes, creating a streaming service nearly two decades ago.

“We were actually one of the first radio stations in the country to start streaming back in 2001. We have our own app for free in the app store. We have two streams, the KCCK main signal, and KCCK Jazz 2 which is a constant stream of our favorite jazz tunes, no talk or commercial interruptions,” Green explained.

For those students and faculty interested in hearing jazz music played live, events are regularly held on campus and feature talented local artists. In November, the Kirkwood Instrumental Jazz program will have a concert featuring Damani Phillips, a sax player and composer, who has a dual appointment at the University of Iowa in Music and African American studies.

Kirkwood students who are interested in volunteer or intern- ship opportunities, are curious about how to get involved in mu- sic education, a career in radio, or want to talk to real on-air talent are invited to contact Dennis Green at Dennis.Green@kirk- wood.edu.

PHOTO BY BUREZE NDAKO
Bob Stewart, Program Director of KCCK takes time while on the air to get the next song on Oct 21.

“Our primary volunteer opportunity times are usually January through March, which is Corridor Jazz time. Summer is our busiest time because of the events and jazz camp, we usually bring in a couple of station interns, at least two every summer,” Green added.

In addition to providing opportunities to students at Kirk- wood and beyond, these pledge drives help KCCK continue to preserve the art of jazz in a rapidly changing media landscape.

“We think that broadcast radio is still a vital and growing medium and it’s worth learning about and listening to. We think that the idea of a human being cu- rating the songs and hosting them live, putting music out over the air because it means something to them is a valuable model that we would like to keep going. It’s an art form,” Green said.

Listening habits have changed a lot over the years. Ac- cording to Billboard.com, more music consumers, especially younger listeners, are leaving radio to listen on their mobile de- vices. KCCK was an early adopt- er of these changes, creating a streaming service nearly two decades ago.

“We were actually one of the first radio stations in the country to start streaming back in 2001. We have our own app for free in the app store. We have two streams, the KCCK main signal, and KCCK Jazz 2 which is a constant stream of our favorite jazz tunes, no talk or commercial interruptions,” Green explained.

For those students and faculty interested in hearing jazz music played live, events are regularly held on campus and feature talented local artists. In November, the Kirkwood Instrumental Jazz program will have a concert featuring Damani Phillips, a sax player and composer, who has a dual appointment at the University of Iowa in Music and African American studies.

Kirkwood students who are interested in volunteer or intern- ship opportunities, are curious about how to get involved in mu- sic education, a career in radio, or want to talk to real on-air talent are invited to contact Dennis Green at Dennis.Green@kirkwood.edu.

Categories: Art & Life, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *