POSTED Fri. Dec 19, 2014

Creative Culture

Happy Birthday, WWOZ
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN
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On Dec 4, 1980, a little radio station with the call letters ‘WWOZ’ began broadcasting out of a basement in Bridge City, LA. The station’s mission? To be a community radio station for the city of New Orleans, a guardian and ambassador of the culture of the most unique urban enclave in the country.

The brothers Brock – Walter and Jerry, from Texas – founders of the station, wanted listeners to focus on music, rather than iconic DJs, as was the trend in radio at the time. Hence, the call letters – ‘OZ’ was a reference to Oz (i.e. the Wizard of) and a line from that book, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, was repurposed by the Brocks into a warning and admonishment to the audience. Personalities would not matter at the new radio station. What was important was New Orleans music.

One month and 34 years later, it’s safe to say WWOZ has made the world a better place via the social good that is New Orleans music. And regarding that music, it’s impossible to overstate the impact of the WWOZ brand. Whatever the curtain is, it’s hard not to see behind it these days; while no one personality dominates WWOZ, WWOZ as an entity has a huge influence on the how the culture of New Orleans is brought to the rest of the world.

This weekend, WWOZ and Tipitina’s are hosting Behind the Curtain, a 34th birthday party for the greatest radio station in the universe. Here’s the really cool bit: the party is broken into three sections, which reflect the three life stages of WWOZ thus far.

No, not childhood, adolescence and adulthood: Tipitina’s, Armstrong Park and the French Market, the three respective headquarters and three respective ‘eras’ of OZ.

There will, of course, be music: Davell Crawford, Ivan Neville and DJ Soul Sister to be exact. And there will be time to reflect on what makes WWOZ, and perhaps by extension, the city whose culture it represents, so very fascinating. Tickets are $21; for more information, check out WWOZ.

Image courtesy of WWOZ.

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    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
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    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.

    WWNO

    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at WWNO.org.

    WWOZ

    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.

    PRC

    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.

    NOMA

    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.

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