New Orleans is an oasis for music. Live music, festivals, second lines you name it; but no matter which style you enjoy, music is a huge part of the fabric of New Orleans. This city would not be what it is without its musical icons and all the styles of music that have grown or found a home here. From the bands on the street all the way up to the Jazzfest each year, the music is much of the fuel that keeps the tourism industry going, so folks can have a super fun time. For the last 35 odd years, a local, community supported radio station, has kept the music of New Orleans alive and going, by broadcasting 24/7 in the Crescent City. The station is primarily run by volunteers who donate their time and in many cases their music collections to share the beautiful music of New Orleans: WWOZ 90.7 fm.
Started in the mid seventies above the club Tipitina’s, WWOZ was the brainchild of Jerry and Walter Brock, with the idea of broadcasting the rich diversity of New Orleans musical tapestry to the world. The call letters were a nod to the Wizard of Oz (Wonderful World of OZ.) The station was very raw back in the beginning, with live performances being broadcast by way of a microphone hanging from a hole in the ceiling in Tipitina’s. 1985 saw the station become a part of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, and was able to move to a new building in Armstrong Park. The Foundation subsidized the station giving them stronger legs to stand on.
WWOZ has continued to grow, especially after hurricane Katrina, the station rebounded, along with the city,grew and thrived. The station has since developed an award winning online presence, with nods from Rolling Stone, Esquire and Paste Magazine. The station now plays in almost every country in the world and has developed many awesome outlets for music. The website has become a pillar of news and information relating to musicians and the community as a whole. For example, the Livewire is played each odd hour on air and is available on the website and now a Livewire app. The Livewire is the daily list of all shows happening in and around New Orleans. During Jazzfest, the station broadcasts live and replays performances from the festival (WWOZ also does this at several other festivals) so listeners san feel they are at the festival if they cannot make it. The station has a live recording studio, so throughout the year, musicians perform live in the studio and WWOZ will broadcast on the website and their Facebook page. WWOZ really tries to bring the listener to New Orleans by constantly bringing great music whether live or recorded. As I mentioned earlier, the DJ’s are all volunteers and most of the music played is handpicked by the DJ’s so the listener is treated to deep cuts and unknown stuff these audiophiles seek out.
So if you are in New Orleans, don’t hesitate to turn on the radio or stream WWOZ because you are sure to find some musical happenings you won’t want to miss. Or better yet, download the app and take WWOZ with you.