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Bluegrass Junction, 7-11pm, Tuesday
Tom Banyai grew up in a household exposed to all sorts of wonderful music, especially classical and jazz. When he went to his first music festival (Newport ’66) he was captivated by live acoustic performance. Coffee houses and small clubs from New Haven to New York City were a hotbed of folk and roots music where he grew to love the energy and immediacy of live performance. The early days of FM radio in the city and on Connecticut colleges recreated some of this same excitement. After hearing radio tributes to Joe Val, he attended his first Bluegrass Festival (WinterHawk ’85) and was captured by the heart & soul of the music. Tom still prefers a live concert or festival, but when he discovered Bluegrass on the radio on stations like WICN, he became a huge fan. When WICN put out a call for volunteers, Tom was already well known to the Bluegrass DJs through his financial backing and persistent calls for requests. After volunteering at the station, it was natural that Tom would end up as a regular host behind the microphone sharing his love of the music. He has been doing a weekly Bluegrass show on WICN since October, 1989. “Being a DJ is like getting to play some of your favorite songs for a friend – except that you have a huge library of songs and the friend is always there for 4 hours every Tuesday night.”
Latin Jazz Now!, 7-11pm, Friday
A self-taught Latin percussionist since the age of 12 when his father handed him Cal Tjader’s 1960 Latino album featuring Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo back in 1966, and an LP fiberglass conga and told him, “Here, learn to play right with these”, he’s been living and breathing Latin Jazz since. A computer network engineer during the day, Jim keeps busy as part of a team overseeing the health and security of the computer network of a major Massachusetts retail corporation. Jim is also a US Army Vietnam Era veteran and served as an Air Traffic Controller where he admits, “That was my first real foray out in radio broadcasting directing all those aircraft”. Although the real commercial radio experience began at Worcester’s Gois Broadcasting Inc.’s WORC 1310AM in 2006 co-hosting with his friend Edwin Cancel, the first Latin Jazz show in Worcester called Ran KanKan. The show lasted about six or so months when his friend resigned and Jim took over the show and renamed it Latin Jazz Sundays. Jim also hosted a Salsa show at the same time on Saturdays called Salsa DuraSabados, that’s Hard Salsa Saturdays and again on Sundays with his friend Alex Vega on Salsa Na’ Ma. Both became major hit shows in Worcester’s Latin community and achieved a 2.5 rating in the Arbitron radio charts for two years. Although short-lived, but well remembered by his listeners, an opportunity opened up in Hartford Connecticut under the Gois Broadcasting group of stations at WNEZ 1230AM and a fusion of the two shows became and all Spanish language show called Jazz Latino Ahora, or Latin JazzNow!. To all this Jim developed a following reaching New York, Florida, California, Hawaii, Canada, and Milan Italy, thanks to the show being streamed across the internet to listeners outside of Worcester. “I am honored to be here at WICN surrounded by the finest and most supportive group of radio professionals in the world. Latin Jazz has a home here on public radio and here in Worcester, and it’s called WICN 90.5FM, New England’s Jazz and Folk Station and on Friday nights it’s New England’s Latin Jazz Station”.
The Saturday Swing Session, 8-10am, Saturday
The Big Band Brunch, 10am-12pm, Saturday
Howard grew up the son of a swing-era big-band drummer, but his dad’s love of swing and jazz took some time to rub off on him. An admitted “Top 40/Adult Contemporary refugee”, Howard came to his senses a decade ago when, in a fit of trying to find quality music, he discovered WICN on his car radio while returning home from work on the Mass. Pike. Since that moment, he's been addicted to jazz and swing and is a huge fan of all types of music. He enjoys everything from the blues, to rock, to opera, to yes, even Top-40. A lawyer by trade, Howard practiced law in Boston and also taught at a law school. He currently serves as the Director of Communications and Training for a large government agency. Howard has hosted talk shows on five different radio stations heard from Boston to Worcester, and has produced and hosted with his wife, Patricia Davidson, an attorney with the Worcester firm of Mirick O'Connell, the syndicated cable TV talk show Night at the Round Table for 16 years. He's delighted to help you get your weekend off to a great start by presenting the legendary sounds of Ella, Ellington, Sinatra and Basie on The Saturday Swing Session from 8 to 10am, and on The Big Band Brunch from 10am to noon.
Against The Grain, 7-11pm, Wednesday
Nick DiBiasio’s passion for music began on the evening of Sunday, February 9, 1964, when The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Just one month before his 10th birthday, Nick bought his first record album, Meet The Beatles, and the rest, as they say, is history. In February 1994, Nick was invited to be a guest DJ on Providence classic rock station WWRX for the 30th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance on American television, and 2 years later he became a full-time radio host.
Nick started working with WICN in 1996, initially filling in once or twice for David Ritchie who at the time was hosting Against The Grain on Friday and Saturday evenings. Later that year Nick took over the Saturday edition of Against The Grain. In early 1999, when WICN expanded its night time roots programming, Nick took on a second night, and hosted The Contemporary Café, a show that featured traditional and contemporary folk music, on record and live in the studio. Over the years, several local and international artists have sat in the studio with Nick, including Eric Andersen, Bill Morrissey, Jon Pousette-Dart, Orleans, Peter Tork of The Monkees, Linda Ronstadt, Mark Erelli, Ellis Paul, Annie Gallup, Amy Correia, Michael Smith, Christine Lavin and many others have chatted about upcoming concerts, songwriting and recording.
Sunday Jazz Brunch, 8am-12pm, Sunday
Born in the Bronx, New York, Marty Friedman has loved jazz since he was 17. "I was at the New York Public Library looking through the LPs, realizing that I had already borrowed all the rock albums of interest. So I decided to branch out. That's when I saw a two-LP set on Prestige called The Hawk Flies. It had a really cool picture on the cover, but it was the Bean's music that really grabbed me." In college at the City University of New York, Marty ran the arts department at the school newspaper, and was able to meet and interview various jazz musicians and record producers in the New York area. Today, as an amateur guitarist, Marty jams with friends at parties and the occasional informal gig. "Doing the Sunday Jazz Brunch is a real thrill because it keeps me current with the latest releases and allows me to share my passion for music with the listeners."
Colors of Jazz, 12pm-4pm, Sunday
Bonnie Johnson is host of Colors of Jazz on Sunday afternoon from noon-4pm. If you asked the Worcester native how she found jazz, she would tell you that jazz found her. As an undergraduate student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Ms. Johnson became a fan of the Quiet Storm featured on the college station WHUR-FM. Later, upon returning home and in her quest to find a radio station that would fill the gap, Ms. Johnson discovered that WICN was playing music that she found reminiscent of the slow jams she heard at HU. Some years later, after becoming a member of WICN, she heeded an invitation to become a volunteer and the rest is history.
Ms. Johnson appreciates the diversity and the evolution of music. As a self-taught electric bassist, she has enjoyed many years of playing various types of music with her daughter and close friends in a family band. Growing up, she sang in the St. Cecilia Girl Choir at All Saints Worcester. Her keen awareness and understanding of the importance of legacy building for future generations is demonstrated by her role as a past Director and co-founder of the women's alumnae group and the association’s scholarship fund established for graduating high school choir girls.
Ms. Johnson holds B.A. in Liberal Studies and M.S. in Communications and Information Management degrees from Bay Path College. She believes the future of jazz is in our children, stating, “Music and the arts is one area that gives young people an outlet and release of creative energy. While there are many children exposed to music through lessons and attending live performances, there are too many more that are not”. One of Johnson’s primary goals as host at WICN is to reach youth in creative ways through community engagement. Bonnie is honored to bring her voice to the music and hopes to find interesting ways to inspire people of all ages.
The Business Beat, 10-10:30pm, Sunday
Steve began hosting The Business Beat in 1995. The show was born out of his passion for reporting and paralleled his duties as Editor of Worcester Business Journal (1992-2004), a regional business-to-business newspaper serving Central Massachusetts and Metrowest. Prior to that, Steve was Managing Editor of WBJ from 1990 to 1992 and of its immediate predecessor, Business Worcester, from 1987 to 1990. He also served as Investigative and Enterprise Reporter for Worcester Magazine, an alternative newspaper serving Greater Worcester, from 1992 to 1997.
Steve served as Social Media/Public Relations Strategist for CommCreative from 2010 to 2012. From 2005 to 2010, and presently, he is Chief Pilot of Best Rate Of Climb, which specializes in B2B and B2C Awareness Building and Lead Generation. Since 2012, he has been Account Executive/Content & Channel Strategist for WCRN 830AM News & Talkradio. And since 2011, he has been a Board Member of Venerini Academy, chairing its Marketing Committee.
In his spare time, Steve enjoys traveling with his wife Lana Jones, who is a news reporter/anchor for WBZ 1030AM in Boston. They particularly enjoy coastal Maine and Central America. His other pastimes include taking flying lessons, sailing, bicycling, rollerblading, hiking, ice skating, cross-country skiing and, whenever possible, just plain goofing off.
Inquiry, 9-10pm, Sunday
Mark has been with WICN in some capacity since the very early 1970's, when the fledgling station started at WPI. His early shows included the bizarre Psychic Journal and the extremely questionable Put Your Head On My Shoulder, WICN’s only “advice to the lovelorn” show. Not content with these short strange spots, he heard Never Mind The Bollocks and immediately joined the Rock Department in the late 1970's. He and Bob Mercer soon became the department heads and together they rapidly turned WICN’s alternative take on contemporary rock into one of the most cutting edge shows in New England. The late nightly show Positive Noise garnered recognition and praise from bands and press all over the world by being the first on any radio station to play bands like The Galloping Coroners from Hungary and promoting artists like Laurie Anderson. All the while that Mark was on the air till 3am, he was simultaneously getting up early to study birds and to teach at the Worcester Art Museum. This schedule could only go on for so long, and he retired from Positive Noise in the mid-1980's. It was then that he decided that the best way to understand his bifurcated life in art and science was to listen to artists and scientists speak, and so Inquiry was born and has been on the air ever since. Besides hosting Inquiry, Mark still teaches (and is a docent) at the Worcester Art Museum, typically offering classes on Contemporary and Modern Art. He is an ecological monitor, teacher and trip leader at the Massachusetts Audubon Society at Broad Meadow Brook and is currently writing an ornithogeography of the Blackstone National Corridor. He is the Book Review Editor at the ornithology journal Bird Observer.
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