Golden Oldies go missing: What to do when the music of your life disappears

Fans of old time swing are finding that Big Band has become No Band. Radio stations that used to carry jazz and swing programming—programming called something like The Music of Your Life or Golden Oldies—are switching their old-time choices from the music of the 30’s and 40’s to music of later decades.

Benny Goodman by Rene Bouche, photo by Cliff1066

Yep, Stompin’ At the Savoy is getting stomped on. It’s demographics, m’dear. Older listeners are going to the great jazz club in the sky, but radio’s audience ratings have to be maintained so advertisers will advertise so stations can survive, etc. etc.

What’s a hep cat to do? Besides staring at the old vinyl records stored in the garage….

The jazz club in your TV set…

Many people don’t know that their cable-enabled TV sets have a run of channels called Music Choice. Think of each Music Choice channel as a radio station with a screen that shows a pic of the talent plus the name of the performer and song. Cable providers typically place Music Choice in the 900 run of channels. Look for two of them among the many: Singers & Swing where you’ll find Big Band and Frank Sinatra and Stage & Screen, where people such as Rogers & Hammerstein hang out. Also note as you flip through the 900 array of channels that there are many other choices, everything from music to meditate by—Soundscapes—to several kinds of classical offerings. Plus no ads or interruptions.

Radio from many lands

If you are computer-literate, and you must be or you wouldn’t be reading this,  you know that stations all over the world stream their programs so that your computer turns into your radio. For a list of jazz stations world-wide, Google—radio locator jazz.

On my iPhone, I have an app called Wunderadio which lets me listen to jazz from all over the world–Switzerland, New Zealand, New York. Wunderadio works with all mobile devices. Download at

A Lindy Hop in Athens Greece

Music players that Sing Sing Sing

My iPhone has over 4000 jazz and swing songs on it, a big boon while doing some lonesome traveling. And, if you are in a hotel room and wish your little music player had a speaker, it can. Go to Amazon and check out this tiny travel speaker, suitcase-ready for your listening needs. Smaller than a tennis ball, it’s the X-Mini, Sound Beyond Size, $26.95.


Don’t forget National Public Radio’s longest running jazz show, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz. She hosts many a world-renowned jazz musician. Google her website for your local time and station.

Plus there are college and public radio stations all over the country that feature some jazz programming. The trick is to find them. Here’s one from Texas…

By Michael Karshis

Listening live

One of the great pleasures of retirement is that you now have time to become a groupie—a jazz head who follows bands and music festivals and even goes on jazz cruises to faraway places such as Alaska and the Caribbean, though I have yet to get on that boat.

Try out one of the great jazz festivals—think Monterey and Newport—but don’t forget the smaller ones. My current fave for Dixieland is Jazz Bash by the Bay, early March on the waterfront in Monterey CA with Dixie, ragtime, Django-esque offerings and just a general worshipping of the Great American Songbook. www.

Following the festivals

Swing groupies need to know where to show up and party. Here’s how to follow the festivals. Subscribe to The American Rag, 20137 Skyline Ranch Drive, Apple Valley CA 92308. Phone 760. 247. 5145. Once a month, 26 dollars a year. Send a check or do it through Paypal.

Get out your vinyl records

Last, dust off the 33’s, 45’s and 78’s and get yourself a 3- speed turntable. Amazon carries lots of turntables or try a portable suitcase-type player, the Crosley CR49 Traveler Portable at $90.65.

So don’t let your old-time musical pleasures evaporate. Artie Shaw is worth holding onto, even if Artie’s eight wives didn’t think so.

1 Comment

  1. One of the best jazz stations around is KCSM FM 91.1 out of the College of San Mateo; 24-hour jazz, a bit of blues, old time jazz, contemporary, all of it (with the exception of smooth/muzak jazz, thankgod!). No commercials, news, traffic. Just straight ahead jazz

    Will miss your columns in the Union, but will try to keep up with you on your website. All the best to you where ever you travel.

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