Jim Benitez / Jazz Host

Jim Benitez shows

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.

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.” His first real commercial radio experience began at Worcester’s Gois Broadcasting Inc.’s WORC 1310AM in 2006, co-hosting the first Latin Jazz show in Worcester called Ran KanKan, with his friend Edwin Cancel. The show lasted about six months until Edwin resigned and Jim took over the show, renaming 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 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, it was well-remembered by his listeners, leading to an opportunity in Hartford under the Gois Broadcasting group of stations at WNEZ 1230AM. A fusion of the two shows became an all-Spanish language show called Jazz Latino Ahora, or Latin JazzNow!

Through all of this, Jim developed a following that extended to New York, Florida, California, Hawaii, Canada, and Milan, Italy, thanks to the show being streamed online to listeners well outside of Worcester. “I am honored to be 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+ station, and on Friday nights it’s New England’s Latin Jazz Station.”

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