KFSR radio show brings lost jazz back to the community

Jim Compton Schmidt works in the KFSR studio preparing music for
his jazz show. The show airs the first Thursday of every month.
Esteban Cortez / The Collegian

Most people have a passion. It could be music, art, sports, movies — almost anything.  But what if you could take your passion and use that passion and make a career out of it?  What if you could use both your career and your passion to bring something new to the public?

One such man, Jim Compton Schmidt, was able to make a career out of his passion. Schmidt has had an interest in jazz music since the early 1940’s.  He has worked as a jazz DJ on and off since 1978.  Over the years, he’s added jazz music to his collection. Schmidt wants to bring undiscovered bands to the public.

Schmidt, a jazz DJ at 90.7 KFSR, came up with an idea for a jazz-themed radio program, “Jazz Building Blocks.” The program began in September.  The show will air the first Thursday of every month, 1 to 4 p.m.

Schmidt had a goal to bring jazz music to his audience, both fans of the music and people who might not be aware of jazz or its artists.  He not only plays music from his own collection, but material that is sent to him as well.

Most of the material Schmidt receives is from other schools.  One sample he received really impressed him.  It was from a school youth group from Kansas City called “5 Star Jazz Band.”

“It was great material,” Schmidt said.Even though the radio program has just started, Schmidt hopes that with time he will have enough material to expand the air time.

He brought his idea to KFSR’s station manager, Phillip Lochbaum.  Lochbaum was intrigued by Schmidt’s proposal.

Lochbaum sees this as an opportunity to help the station and the community.

“It’s a new, fresh idea,” Lochbaum said.

He went on to explain that throughout the years, some jazz music has been lost.  This program will give people a chance to re-discover that lost music.

“It’s been a good, new experience for KFSR,” Lochbaum said.

One perk of the program, Lochbaum explained, was that audience members can hear a jazz tune they haven’t heard in years.  Lochbaum revealed that on more than one occasion a listener called in, excited to hear a new tune and they wanted to know who the artist was.

Dr. Alan Durst, a jazz studies professor at Fresno State, is also excited about Schmidt’s radio show.  Durst himself is a fan of jazz.  He started to play the saxophone at around nine years old.  Later, he found inspiration to pursue it professionally.  A good friend, Greg Banaszak, would perform on stage.  Durst was amazed and wanted to experience the thrill of the audience cheering himself.

Durst along with several jazz students put together a jazz CD, “The Goodness” which was released in 2010.  It had a limited release, but Durst was satisfied with the experience nonetheless. One group of music students, the Jazz Combo, put together some original material for the CD.

“The CD combined new and old jazz music,” Durst said.

Durst feels that more people could benefit from listening to jazz.

“It’s a cultural experience,” Durst said.

He also sees the educational value to Schmidt’s program.

“By learning different styles, students earn an educational victory,” Durst said.

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