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In regards to your recent story, "Local Anesthetic" [Post No Bills, April 14], job well done! I was unaware of the Mark Ruffin firing, but I have noticed the decline in variety and quality at WBEZ (something that precedes Malatia I might add). None of this surprises me, I mean, someone's gotta pay for their radio palace on Navy Pier.

Malatia and Heim have reduced WBEZ to a cookie-cutter jazz station. I only wish I could get College of DuPage or Hyde Park at my Little Italy apartment. When I started getting into jazz back in the early 1990s it was with the help of Tesser, Buckley, and Smith.

I agree with Tesser that creating specialty shows or "ghettos" is a feasible solution to the mainstream direction WBEZ has taken. The example here is the good job they are doing with blues with shows focusing on different jazz eras as is now done with Buckley, but I would like to see included such topic areas as hard bop, specific artists (Coltrane, Powell, Young). A two-hour show weekly focusing on a jazz artist without running out of artists for years and at this point starting over would not be repetitive. This would serve the dual purpose of jazz education and variety. Additionally, more avant-garde stuff like Fred Anderson and Vandermark and Coltrane's last years could be bundled into an avant-garde show, focusing on local jazz and historically important artists. I would also like to hear more R & B; here the Friday-night show from WEMU (Ypsilanti, MI) is an excellent model.

Live music would also be nice (or at least taped and rebroadcast). For instance, local shows from a variety of clubs such as Velvet Lounge, HotHouse, Jazz Showcase, etc. Jazz Showcase shows could be sold nationally. Even better how about broadcasting the Sunday-afternoon jam sessions from the Velvet Lounge!

Nonetheless, I must say I've nearly given up on WBEZ. I still listen and even contribute (mostly out of guilt not out of excitement). I can see that once I get on-line at home that I will start to tune out of WBEZ and listen over the Web to stations like WFMU (NJ), WWOZ (New Orleans), and WEMU (Ypsilanti). At these stations I can get a variety of what I want.

Why can't we have a top-quality station here in Chicago? I keep arguing with my NYC brother that our music scene may be the world's best for quality and variety. NYC's jazz scene is in my view stale and way overpriced. Consequently, we need a viable public station to promote and support our great music scene. I mean think about the jazz, blues, world music, and rock that goes on in this city. It's absolutely amazing!

I gotta go, but keep it up. One last note, I would like to see more rock coverage in the Reader. Lately, Rock, Etc. has been way too much etc and not enough rock. I would like to see a better overall mix.

Sincerely,

Jeff Sobczynski

Chicago

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