January 6, 2023 By McGregor McCance, firstname.lastname@example.org McGregor McCance, email@example.com
Long-serving show hosts at the University of Virginia’s radio station, WTJU, say their dedication reflects a passion for exploring and sharing music with others. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications.)
Something about WTJU appeals to the radio station’s DJs.
Really appeals to them. Such that some have spent decades hosting weekly shows on the station, licensed to the University of Virginia and on the air since 1957.
In October, the station’s longest-volunteering DJ hosted his last regular show. Dave Rogers, known through his WTJU show and across the regional music community as “Professor Bebop,” ended a run of nearly 50 years as leader of a jazz-centric weekly show.
His departure still leaves a full stable of continuing DJs who have hosted regular shows for equally improbable and impressive amounts of time. WTJU features more than a half-dozen current hosts who have been producing shows regularly for 25 or 30 or 40 years – and longer.
UVA Today published a feature about Professor Bebop a few years back, and with his retirement from a regular show, we checked in with a few other long-serving DJs to find out what keeps them excited about letting the music play on.
Here are sketches of a few of the long-serving WTJU hosts:
Scott Shisler says part of his mission is to share music others may not have heard. “That’s what community radio does best.” (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
Show: “Reggae Vibrations,” Saturdays, noon
Years hosting: since 1992
Song or artist played the most: Bob Marley and the Wailers
Top 2 discs for a deserted island: If I was limited to two discs on a deserted island I’d waste away. But … Bob Marley and the Wailers, “Survival,” and Rico Rodriguez, “That Man Is Forward”
Why you enjoy hosting: I host because of a lifetime of absorbing excellent radio. I was a music sponge, from when I was little. The more you hear, the more you want to share it. You just might hear your next favorite song. Professor Bebop taught me that.
Rebecca Foster has been exploring and sharing music as a host of two shows since 1999. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
Shows: “Eclectic Woman,” Tuesdays, noon; “In the Spirit,” Sundays, 9 a.m.
Years hosting: since 1999
Song or artist played the most: Mahalia Jackson
Top 2 discs for a deserted island: “The Wild Tchoupitoulas” and Lucinda Williams, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”
Why you enjoy hosting: Primarily it’s about exploring and sharing with listeners who really care about music. Also, I love the creative process of putting a show together, responding to something going on in the community, the world or just in my own heart.
The blues never get old for Peter Welch, who believes his goal is met if listeners hear a tune on his show and it leads them to discover more music like it on their own. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
Show: “Nothing But the Blues,” Fridays, 9 p.m.
Years hosting: since 1994
Song or artist played the most: Muddy Waters
Top 2 discs for a deserted island: Chess Blues Boxed Set, and Sun Records: The Blues Years
Why you enjoy hosting: I’ve always loved the blues in all styles and enjoy sharing the songs and artists I’ve discovered over the years with listeners every week. If a listener hears something on my show and it leads them to discover more music by that artist or in that style, I feel my mission is accomplished.
At one point, Ann Shaffer had played Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel und Gretel” every Christmas for 34 years, making it her most-played opera as a WTJU show host. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
Show: “Sunday Opera Matinee,” Sundays, 3 p.m.
Years hosting: since 1983
Song or artist played the most: Giuseppe Verdi
Top 2 discs for a deserted island: Verdi, “Don Carlo,” and Mozart, “The Marriage of Figaro”
Why you enjoy hosting: It’s a wonderful opportunity to share the music I love with other people.
The title of Rus Perry’s show reflects how new discoveries in jazz remain common in a style of music now a century old. (Photo by Nathan Moore)
Show: “Jazz at 100 Now!” Tuesdays, 9 a.m.
Years hosting: off and on since 1972
Song or artist played the most: Thelonious Monk
Top 2 discs for a deserted island: John Coltrane, “Blue Train,” and Duke Ellington, “Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band”
Why you enjoy hosting: I love to assemble sets of music that, in combination, enhance the appreciation of the individual tracks, and I love sharing music that I have discovered.
Longtime host Tyler Magill enjoys sharing his musical discoveries with others on the show he has hosted since the mid-1990s. (Photo by Nathan Moore)
Show: “The Broadcasting System,” Mondays, 2 p.m.
Years hosting: since mid-1990s
Song or artist played the most: Lungfish or any of Jim O’Rourke’s million appearances
Top 2 discs for a deserted island: Pram, “The Stars Are So Big, The Earth Is So Small … Stay As You Are,” and Washington Phillips, “Storefront and Street Corner Gospel”
Why you enjoy hosting: Music is one of the few things that gives me joy, and finding new music gives me new joy. That’s not necessarily new new, but new to me. I like how little sounds and grace notes recur over time and genre, how song speaks to song. I love to tell little stories. Most of all, I want to play something for my audience that they will love, but they’ve never heard before.
Associate Vice President for Communications and Executive Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications
January 7, 2023