I love jazz. You know, the kind of jazz that makes you think about sitting in a dark bar with a dewy glass of bourbon in front of you, somebody smoking a cigarette and laughing quietly beside you, and a cat plunking some amazing riff on the double bass, while a woman closes her eyes, throws back her head, and just kills the song. I love that it can be 10 a.m. in the morning, in the car, in traffic, and you hear a sweet jazz tune like that, and you’re immediately transported into that cooler-than-cool place.
I love Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Branford Marsalis, Buena Vista Social Club, Chick Corea, Freddy Cole, Jimmy Smith, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Sarah Vaughn, and oh my God, Nina Simone above all others. And that’s why I love WCLK, 91.9 the Jazz of the City in Atlanta. Because it plays them all, plus a slew of people you’ve never heard of and are going to love, too. And tops it off with a dollop of NPR news every once in a while just to keep you current.
WCLK is the only station in Atlanta, IMHO (in my humble opinion) where you can reliably hear great music just about any hour of the day. Since 1974 when it became the first black federally licensed educational FM station in Georgia, WCLK has been playing jazz from its home on the campus of the historically black college of Clark Atlanta University, and introducing artists like Lizz Wright and Grammy Award-winning India.Arie to its faithful listeners.
Since WABE, Atlanta’s other NPR station is fanatically attached to playing classical music (dangerously tempting motorists to fall asleep at the wheel), WCLK is my go-to station. Especially in the morning, when Morris Baxter puts his luscious, Barry-White-kind-of-love-spin of positivity and optimism on everything.
And because this is the South, there’s no demarcation between music and religion here, honey. Every morning from 4-6 am, there’s morning gospel, and Sundays that extends to 5 straight hours of praise. In fact, Morris ends every one of his morning shows with this adage (which I hope I’m getting right): “Worry about nothing, pray about anything and thank God for everything!” Right on, Brother Morris! WCLK also features Latin, reggae and blues hours, and at noon on Wednesdays, Nancy Wilson gives Jazz Profiles a languid, silky smooth spin that’s like an audio massage.
WCLK is having its dreaded membership drive right now through Sunday, but I’m such a believer in public radio in general (why would anybody listen to advertising on purpose?) and in WCLK in particular, it was a true pleasure to call in my pledge. I get at least $100 worth of listening joy out of WCLK every month… and so can you, no matter where you live. Click here to listen online… and click here to contribute your support!