The Big Broadcast

A musical spotlight on the classic sounds of the 1920s and '30s, Sunday nights from 8pm-Midnight.

Sunday is a big night at WFUV. That's when Rich Conaty spins classic jazz and pop tunes of the 1920s and '30s in his long-running program, The Big Broadcast.

"The Big Broadcast was a pretty unusual show, content-wise, over 35 years ago. It's almost unique today," Conaty observes. "I haven't heard any other program that blends classic jazz with the pop vocals and dance bands of the same period."

"I'm pretty typical of the people who listen to my shows," says Rich. The music is "strictly one piece of the puzzle. It's important to keep some balance."

This may be why fans of The Big Broadcast are so loyal. At least one listener claims never to have missed a show in more than 22 years. And when Conaty left WFUV in December 1992 "to see if The Big Broadcast would succeed on a commercial outlet," his loyal listeners followed. Despite his success elsewhere, however, Conaty found the working environment in commercial radio to be less than ideal, and by July 1997 he was delighted to return to the station where it all began. "I think the experience polished my act, but also gave me a deeper appreciation for FUV," he says.

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Collecting notes:

Victrola

At any moment, there are around 7,000 78s at auction on eBay. But keep an eye out on Feedback scores - many sellers have no idea how to grade records. A few confess to not being able to play them! I subscribe to VJM, a quarterly magazine with plenty of 78s and LPs. Online, you might want to visit Alan Cooperman's site [jazz78s.com], Warren Hicks' Records for Collectors, or Kurt Nauck [78rpm.com].

Once you've picked up some records, you'll need to play them. A vintage machine, like those you'll find at the Mechanical Music Extravaganza, is nice to look at, but rough on records. Kevin A. Barrett has a range of contemporary three-speed turntables and, most importantly, the right-sized needles for old sides [kabusa.com].

Rich's Links:

  • Archeophone Records - Put out wonderful, most acoustic (pre-1925) material, including their "Phonographic Yearbooks," Bert Williams and Marion Harris.
  • Frog Records - Wonderful transfers of McKinney’s Cotton Pickers, Miff Mole and King Oliver.
  • Hep Jazz - Alastair Robertson's label is expansive, and embraces modern jazz and big bands, as well as Cleo Brown, Isham Jones and the Tennessee Tooters.
  • Jazz Oracle - A great label out of Canada.
  • Mosaic Records - Well-produced, limited edition CDs. Bix Beiderbecke, Venuti & Lang, Bunny Berigan, Prima & Manone.
  • Rivermont Records - Bryan Wright’s label, the company that works with me on “The Big Broadcast” CDs.
  • Vocalion Records - A seemingly inexhaustible source for British Dance Bands, but they’ve also done Leo Reisman, Rudy Vallee and Paul Whiteman.
     

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