Afterglow! Jazz Radio at Its Best

Although I’ve ripped a large part of my collection to various internal and external drives, mostly for backup reasons, I don’t listen to it much on my PC. Considering the time I spent tagging the mp3, mpc and flac files and organizing my wave and CD image backups, I think I’m wasting too much of my life away on this PC and digital stuff. The music is just sitting there, staring at me from a trillion folders, neatly tucked away, begging to be heard.

What I do instead is listen to Internet radio. Sounds stupid in light of the money invested into a pretty huge collection, but the reason is really very simple. I can never get enough of the stuff and I’m constantly on the lookout for new and old music I might like, recommendations, and discussions about obscure releases that I then try to uncover.

On top of that, I’m always on the lookout for soul mates who just seem to be on my wavelength when it comes to music, and this is where “Afterglow” comes in. It’s not so much that I’m fed new stuff constantly, but this radio programme is at the very top of my list simply because without fail, it showcases some of my favorite music and sprinkles the various playlists with music that I hadn’t heard before and which is then automatically picked up by my radar as it is flanked by music I already know and like.

In summation, David Brent Johnson, the host of the programme, is not only someone who regularly does top-notch research in preparation for the show(s), he also has, in my eyes, impeccable taste. The guy just knows what he’s doing. Smooth. Cool.

“Afterglow”, named after a Marian McPartland composition, which is also the theme each show starts off with, does have a history. It was created by Dick Bishop and debuted on WFIU (located in the Radio/TV Building on the campus of Indiana University) in the late 1970s. Bishop made the program a true success story until he retired in early 2005.

Right from the start, Bishop featured the more laidback and elegant American popular music and standards, most of which are timeless classics far removed from the commercial sop we listeners are usually served. The music played here is the kind of music you can relax to, work to or listen to intently and concentratedly, all depending on your mood and schedule. It goes extremely well with a smooth drink and, for me, it has been a fantastic way to relieve the stress I often encounter in my day job. It’s the kind of music that begs for dimming the lights and is best enjoyed in the very late hours of the night, when the noise has died down and when other people are asleep … or listening to “Afterglow”.

“Afterglow” is really the only programme listening to which I couldn’t care less about the quality reduced stream that I only have access to via the “Afterglow” archives. The consistent quality of the programme as a whole and the tunes selected make up for that. To be quite honest, it wasn’t until I wrote this post here that I actually checked at which quality “Afterglow” was available. If you know me a bit better, the guy who screams when he hears a slight EQ boost on a remastered CD, that’s saying a lot. The programme is that good.

“Afterglow” is not for you if you are one of those narrow-minded listeners that hasn’t heard anything else but Nirvana and the dubios clones that followed in their wake, or if you are one of those hyper-active manager types who just can’t wind down. Stay clear and go elsewhere. But if Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Ammons, Miles Davis, Mark Murphy, Red Garland, Kenny Dorham and Stanley Turrentine, McCoy Tyner, Gerry Mulligan, Ike Quebec, and the many, many other musicians and singers featured here are names you recognize, “Afterglow” serves up some of their best and sometimes also more obscure (to the average listener) music. For example, Mosaic Records‘ rare and limited editions, which not many people ever have the chance of actually owning, regularly surface here and David can often be encountered on the Organissimo forums, just hangin’, or collecting and checking info, getting ready for another carefully assembled programme.

Each programme is available on the website in two one-hour streams. Whereas the second hour always features a musician, singer or special theme, the first hour is the trademark mix of jazz, jazz ballads and American popular song. Past features have included Bing Crosby, Mark Murphy and Julie London, Gerry Mulligan, Blossom Drearie, Nat King Cole, Brad Mehldau, Nancy Wilson,
and a whole treasure trove of artists. The only downside to “Afterglow” I can think of is that there simply is not enough of it available online (yet), but if you are one of the lucky listeners who live within the coverage area of the radio station, you won’t have that problem.

Allow me a more personal note before I send you over to the “Afterglow” archive. Regular readers of my site know that I’ve been battling some more severe health issues these past nine months, which put me into hospitals for seemingly endless stretches of sometimes painful and often insanely unpleasant examinations, tests, operations and whatnot. I’m being absolutely honest when I say that without permanent access to David Brent Johnson’s programme, I would probably have given up long before I was released into the wild again. When desperation set in, usually late at night, I would fire up my Internet connection and hit the archive. I heard all (!) of the programmes countless times and now that I’m back and feeling much better, I’m continuing to do so.

Thanks, David!

Now, go away and listen to some timeless music – but don’t forget to come back soon.
More goodies are in the works.

Note: “WFIU, member supported public radio in Bloomington, broadcasts from Indiana University at 103.7, covering an approximate 70 mile radius. WFIU is also heard on translator W264AL Columbus at 100.7, from Indiana University in Kokomo on translator W291AM at 106.1, and from Indiana State University in Terre Haute on translator W236AE at 95.1.” (coverage area)

Note: I’ve used for the links to the programme and single pages because some characters of the original links would have broken my site validation.

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. Thanks for posting this. I’ve been through the archive since and agree: very tasty choice of tracks and very pleasant music. If you keep posting this jazz stuff, I might even become a fan, something I would have dismissed outright a few months ago.


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