Veteran broadcasters still jazzing it up
AGE is just a number for Dunedin radio’s ‘‘Gentlemen of Jazz’’, who have recently been rewarded for their dedication to broadcasting.
Calder Prescott (87) and Lou McConnell (82) have both been awarded life memberships of the Otago Community Broadcasters Society, an achievement that represents a combined 40 years on air.
The pair volunteer at Otago Access Radio, a Dunedin nonprofit community access station, hosting their weekly radio shows Prescott’s My Kind of Jazz and McConnell’s Jazz Cafe.
‘‘We both love jazz and we love spreading the word,’’ Prescott said.
‘‘We complement each other with different styles and different tunes, but it’s all jazz and we love it.’’
Prescott has been playing music on air since the 1940s and began his broadcasting career in 2000, running a jazz programme once a week.
‘‘It’s so nice to sit down and have a whole hour to listen to jazz that you like and you know lots of people like as well.’’
He said the biggest highlight of his time with OAR was doing a show with the late Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine.
‘‘The music that they created has carried on to the modern day and many bands play the same compositions they played, so it’s constantly changing and evolving which is what we love.’’
McConnell started with OAR, then known as Hills AM, in 1997, after an old friend asked him to cover his jazz programme while he was off sick — 21 years later, he’s still there.
‘‘I’ve been collecting jazz since I left school.
‘‘I started off with an old Regal Zonophone 78rpm version of On The Sunny Side of the Street, by Lionel Hampton, and it’s just carried on from there.’’
The pair have seen plenty of change in the studio since their early days, but agree that the improvements in technology have only made jazz better.
‘‘Everything is so much simpler nowadays. Back in the old days you had to swap the cartridges out and use different LPs but now it’s all done with CDs and I even use an iPad.
‘‘It makes it so easy and the music sounds great,’’ McConnell said.
And the pair’s favourite jazz artists?
John Dankworth, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Bob Florence and Rob McConnell, to name a few.
The Gentlemen of Jazz will continue their love affair with jazz music when they front the Jazz at the Savoy OAR fundraiser, alongside the Dunedin City Jazz Orchestra tomorrow.
Gentlemen of Jazz . . . Lou McConnell (left) and Calder Prescott broadcast on Otago Access Radio on Wednesday.