Editor’s note This is a small peak behind the scenes of the radio coverage and live broadcasts provided by our publishing circle partner, WWOZ radio.

WWOZ brings the sounds of New Orleans to the world through our live broadcasts. Our festival broadcasts are some of the most popular programming we have, and bringing you to the big festivals like Jazz Fest and French Quarter Fest requires a lot of moving parts, a focused team of players, and a bit of luck. Here, a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to bring a live event to the airwaves and online at wwoz.org.

One of the most common questions we receive about our live broadcasts is how we decide which artists to feature live. Deciding the on-air performance lineup at a large event like Jazz Fest is a challenge (and
pleasure – so many excellent choices!) that starts weeks before the festival when our staff identifies a list of likely artist candidates and begins the process of obtaining the signed waivers that allow us to broadcast their sets.

With many moving parts of the live broadcast process, many artists who we would like to share with the audience just don’t make it to the air. We want to make sure to bring as much live music to the radio as possible, so ‘OZ usually ends up broadcasting from the stages with lineups that provide a combination of New Orleans artists, artists who are relevant to our format and, importantly, with the highest number of artists who signed the waiver agreeing to be broadcast. This is a bit of a juggling act and scheduling decisions are sometimes made last-minute.

Day 3 of Jazz Fest 2015, by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee

A WWOZ truck.

Young Pinstripe Brass Band at Jazz Fest 2012, by Hunter King.

WWOZ has two broadcast trucks that are set up near the stages we’ll be broadcasting from. This allows us to be ready to broadcast from two different stages or locations at any given time. The broadcast truck is out many hours before the broadcast is set to begin (usually an entire day in advance), preparing the connections and equipment and troubleshooting to anticipate problems that might arise throughout the day.

Each truck houses a mobile studio with three team members – two engineers and an editor. The truck team interfaces with the stage and receives the multi-split input. From that, they independently create WWOZ’s own mix right from the live stage. This mix is usually fine-tuned during the first song of the set.

From the mobile studios, the audio is then transmitted back to the WWOZ broadcast trailer where the producer auditions the sonic quality of the feed coming from the trucks before deciding it’s ready for air and sending it out to our listeners.

Though the director runs the flow of the entire broadcast, you'll never hear him or her on-air. WWOZ

At Jazz Fest, we have an on-site broadcast trailer which houses the broadcast’s director, assistant director, and engineering room. The engineering room receives the broadcast mix from our truck. The equipment translates this mix into a format that can reach the web stream and airwaves at 90.7 FM.

In the next room, the director quarterbacks the broadcast. The director communicates directly with both of the mobile studios and the assistant director, who sits with the show hosts, as well as makes sure that the details of what goes into each hour of programming run smoothly. This includes things like determining when to go live to the stage, playing the livewire, reminding show hosts when it’s time to mention our legal ID on-air, and playing music from CDs in between live sets. Though the director runs the flow of the entire broadcast, you’ll never hear him or her on-air.

At Jazz Fest, our on-air broadcasters, along with the assistant director, are set up inside the WWOZ Hospitality Tent where we have two show hosts. There are also spots for two guests, and ambient mics are set up so listeners can get a real auditory feel for what it’s like on site. All of this audio is transmitted back to the broadcast trailer as well.

The show hosts have a line on the pulse of the festival as they’re right among the crowd. They sit with the assistant director, who communicates with the broadcast trailer director through a headset. He writes down any information that the hosts need to know or should talk about during their next mic break on a white board and holds it up so it’s easy for the hosts to see and refer back to as they’re speaking. This includes information like who is being broadcast at the moment, what was just played, who will be coming up next, suggestions of evening events to promote, etc.

WWOZ usually has 10-15 live broadcasts each year. We are always coming to you from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and French Quarter Fest each April, as well as the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Fest each October. WWOZ also usually airs the Bayou Boogaloo, Jazz Journey, Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival, and Great Night in Harlem, along with a handful of other special events throughout the year. Thanks for listening!

Above photos by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee, Hunter King and WWOZ staff. Main image: Day 3 of Jazz Fest, 2015, by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee.

Our Local Publisher Partners

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, 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 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.


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.


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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