If you’re longing for a radio station that plays great jazz, there’s one right under your nose that originates from right here in the Upstate. The catch is that it’s not actually on the radio. The station, WGJC, is on the Greenville Jazz Collective’s website, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Last October, the Collective, a nonprofit group of local musicians dedicated to educating and raising awareness about jazz music, launched the streaming station after months of tinkering.
“We started cooking this thing up in 2019,” says GJC guitarist and board of directors member Matt Dingledine, “and got serious about it with the events of 2020. That kind of changed what our goals were, and we thought, ‘This is a great idea to get some momentum behind this project.’ So we beta tested it through the summer, and we made an announcement inviting people to tune in and check it out in mid-October.”
“We have a lot of local writers in the region,” Hoover says, “in the Carolinas and Georgia. And we wanted to cover those areas of local compositions and composers.”
If you tune into WGJC on the Collective’s website, you can hear a wide range of artists, from modern players like guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel to icons like saxophonist Michael Brecker to regional favorites like vocalist Tish Oney.
And of course, WGJC wouldn’t be complete without a few cuts from the Collective themselves.
Bassist and GJC board member Shannon Hoover says that the Collective curated the station’s 750-plus artist playlist to emphasize both local and national talent.
“We have a lot of local writers in the region,” Hoover says, “in the Carolinas and Georgia. And we wanted to cover those areas of local compositions and composers. And of course we have a lot of the hits, but we’re really focused on our local jazz family like Keith Davis, Matt Olson, Tish Oney, a lot of our local favorites, and the GJC Big Band.”
“It’s fun to sit and listen to it and hear Jim Hall followed by Matt Dingledine followed by Ron Carter followed by Shannon Hoover,” says GJC Executive Director Bruce Burney. “I’m really very proud of the library we’ve built.”
Dingledine says that WGJC might not even exist right now if it hadn’t been for the pandemic.
“We started off this year with a cornucopia of monthly events,” he says. “In February alone, I think we had a couple of dozen events spread throughout the month. And that just came to a screeching halt. We had plans for a Mauldin Jazz & Blues Fest, the Jazz Camp at Furman, and then it was like, ‘What do we do here?’ And we realized it was an opportunity to continue to develop this; it’s something we felt strongly about, but we felt like we never had a moment to give it the attention it needed. So it was one of those classic situations of one door closes and another one opens.”
Once they had the time, it was just a matter of figuring out how to create and run an online radio station.
“I’ve been playing DJ since I was about nine years old,” laughs Bruce Burney, the executive director of the Greenville Jazz Collective. “That’s the background I bring to it. But otherwise I don’t think any of us have any experience starting an online streaming radio station. To me, it’s been a fun experience and a great learning experience. Beyond our ability to find a suitable platform that accommodated what we wanted to do, we’re focused on trying to grow something that more people want, and I think if people try it out, they’ll see that. I think it’s a great range of jazz that represents a broad range of tastes. It’s fun to sit and listen to it and hear Jim Hall followed by Matt Dingledine followed by Ron Carter followed by Shannon Hoover. I’m really very proud of the library we’ve built.”
Visit greenvillejazzcollective.com to listen to WGJC.