WBGO Champions of Jazz 2018 - May 01

Newark Public Radio

 about wbgo 

Newark Public Radio, WBGO 88.3FM was the brainchild of an urban think tank whose members came together in Newark in the 1970s to affect change after the rebellion of 1967. Marshalling an extraordinary group of city activists, and with the help of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, they established the first public radio station in New Jersey in 1979 on the underutilized frequency originally licensed by the Newark Public School System.


In forming, WBGO committed to becoming an independent, community licensed, not-for-profit, public radio station that would champion jazz - an American art form that is also an important chapter in Newark's cultural history. WBGO affiliated with NPR, and went to a 24-hour broadcast day in 1980 when the only other full-time jazz station in the New York Metro market, WRVR (a commercial station), changed its format.


In 1985, WBGO became a producer of nationally syndicated programming, expanding its impact tremendously, and has a significant history of success, most notably for over 20 years as the producer of Jazz Set. It was one of the first stations to begin to stream its programming over the internet, which enabled a global footprint. In October 2014, WBGO launched Jazz Night in America, a ground-breaking program hosted by Grammy-award winning bassist Christian McBride in collaboration with NPR Music and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Each episode invites the audience to listen and engage with jazz musicians of today, while giving insight to the music through intimate conversations and rare archival tape woven throughout, bringing attention to the history and heritage of local jazz scenes around the U.S., as well as from Jazz at Lincoln Center. The program can be heard on more than 200 public radio stations across the country and delivers the most diverse audience of any NPR program. In January 2017, WBGO further expanded its voice with the launch of its reenvisioned website, WBGO.org, and the hiring of its first ever Director of Editorial Content, veteran jazz author and critic Nate Chinen. These strategic programming efforts have made WBGO the flagship jazz content provider for the entire NPR network and are a major component of its strategies to bring new audiences to this music.


WBGO’s dedication to preserving the uniquely American art form of jazz for future generations is at the heart of its mission. Programming suitable for the entire family, educational and community outreach is a vital element of Public Broadcasting. Projects such as the WBGO Media Fellows are working to ensure we are proactively providing opportunities for future generations of leaders from our community.


WBGO’s daily broadcast can be easily identified by the passionate, extremely knowledgeable and idiosyncratic on-air announcers, live broadcasts and on-air interviews with today's most significant jazz and blues artists, and a news department whose drive time news reports and weekly magazine program, the WBGO Journal, are frequently recognized for their reporting excellence. In spring of 2018, WBGO News will launch “Ask the Governor” in collaboration with WNYC and WHYY with New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy.


The WBGO Community Arts Calendar, which launched in 2015, is the definitive location for all the cultural offerings Newark has to offer. The calendar is a vital community service, working to sustain the local creative economy by supporting arts organizations, artists, and patrons, and projecting a positive view of Newark around the globe not found in the mainstream media.


WBGO’s studios are located in the heart of downtown Newark, New Jersey. The transmission antenna and tower are located at 4 Times Square. Since 1996, WBGO has streamed its signal over the Internet on WBGO.org and has become a true oasis to thousands of listeners worldwide. Starting in 2009, the WBGO mobile app became available for download. New features include two full weeks of archived live programming available on demand.


Operating as a 501c3 organization with more than 50 full and part-time staff members, WBGO is funded by more than 16,000 members each year, and by a combination of corporate, business, foundation, and governmental grants.

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