WUSF’s ‘All Night Jazz’ listeners protest its removal from the air

Adjunct professor Pablo Arencibia (left) and jazz musician Tim Diehl stood among other All Night Jazz listeners in front of the WUSF building Thursday afternoon. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

While driving from the Miami International Airport to Tampa, adjunct professor Pablo Arencibia turned on the radio and listened to All Night Jazz for the first time. 

“I heard about this program even before I put my foot on Florida,” Arencibia, who organized the event, said. “[All Night Jazz] was probably the first station I stopped by the dial when I just entered the highway here in Tampa.”

WUSF announced the decision to cancel All Night Jazz two weeks ago. The time slot previously filled by the show will be replaced with public radio programs, according to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. The show has run on WUSF for 56 years and will stop running Oct. 31.

Protesters and jazz lovers assembled outside the WUSF building on Thursday to advocate for keeping All Night Jazz on the air. About 17 people attended. 

Organizers of the protest had also planned for a shuttle to drive attendees, according to a Facebook post of the event. However, the shuttle had a flat tire, Arencibia said, causing less people to be present than expected.

Singer Cynthony Palmer (front) led the protesters’ chant, “What do we want? Jazz. When do we want it? All night,” while they played tambourines and cowbells. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Arencibia said he was disheartened upon learning of the show’s cancellation, as the station was more than just music, but an emotional connection. He found that with the loss of the station, his students are also experiencing the loss of ability to rely on the platform that All Night Jazz provided to new musicians looking for exposure. 

“Most of [my students] are pursuing a career in music. So sooner or later, they’re going to need that service that [All Night Jazz] has been providing for 56 years,” Arencibia said. “And that’s when I started the online petition to keep All Night Jazz on the air to keep all my jobs in the air.” 

A petition to keep the program running had 3,471 signatures as of Thursday night.

When alum Camila Ferrufino heard the news that All Night Jazz would be taken off the air, she was heartbroken and angry. It was something she never thought would happen.

Ferrufino said she believes it will be significantly harder for musicians and jazz lovers to grow their circle now that All Night Jazz will not air. 

“I know there’s a lot of jazz lovers where this is the main way that they consume music,” she said. “[All Night Jazz] gives them a platform for them to discover those people.”

Student Cameron Coffee (left), musician LaRue Nickelson (middle) and alum Camila Ferrufino (right) played an auxiliary percussion stand during the protest. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

The show will be moved to Arts Axis Florida, a new site through WUSF that will stream content and performances. The new platform has fewer followers than All Night Jazz’s current site, according to Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

Dave Rudolph, a School of Music faculty member and jazz musician, said he thinks it is foolish for WUSF to move All Night Jazz to a platform with “almost no viewership,” especially when it already has a large following. 

Rudolph believes the protest could have mustered up more attention if the announcement had not been so short notice. 

Former WUSF jazz Director Michael Cornett, who worked at the station for 10 years, including six years as a director, said the jazz community has grown, making the removal of All Night Jazz more unfortunate.

“Jazz is a true American art form and I think that it needs to be supported on the radio, especially here in Tampa,” Cornett said. “We’ve had a really nice, rich tradition of jazz music here [and] we’ve built a really solid, tight knit jazz community.”

The radio show also has a tradition of putting local musicians in the spotlight and promoting their shows throughout Tampa, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Now, jazz musicians, such as Tim Diehl and LaRue Nickelson, will have to find other ways to promote their music.

“[All Night Jazz] has been a friend to all of us local players and when we come out with records and new projects. USF has been there for us to do interviews and play our music,” Diehl said. “I’ve seen the experiences that music has on people and we need more of it, not less.” 

As the protest neared its end, Arencibia placed signs that said, “Keep jazz on air,” in the front windows of the WUSF building. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Students like junior music education major Laura Cubi said a part of the importance of joining in protest and supporting her friends, teachers and band members is to advocate for the history of jazz to be maintained through All Night Jazz. 

“Jazz has such a rich history with people of color and African Americans. Taking that away just seems like a step backwards,” Cubi said. “Knowing that it was important to them, I knew I had to come and show support.”

Cubi said people looking to continue to be involved in the jazz community can find local gigs and combos throughout the USF community. 

Some are afraid of what will come next such as Cameron Coffee, senior jazz studies major. Coffee, who grew up listening to jazz and R&B, said it is important to maintain a culture that supports musicians and the roots of music. 

Though he understands things change, Coffee said people should continue to appreciate the arts and revisit their roots. 

WUSF’s All Night Jazz has been a successful program for 50 years, which makes its termination from WUSF feels unjust, Rudolph said.

“I play jazz. I listen to jazz,” Rudolph said. “So for me, it’s a very personal thing to have someone say ‘Oh, yes, this thing that you love that’s important to you, we’re just going to take it away and squirrel it away on some dark corner of the internet without just cause.’”