Vet­eran broad­cast­ers still jazz­ing it up

Otago Daily Times - - GENERAL - EDDY BRAMLEY

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.

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