A kid with with a dream in his head and a buzz in his ears back in the ’70s made his way from Texas to the capital of his own personal Oz, the emerald city of New Orleans. He washed dishes and delivered papers to get by, and by hook and crook managed to open up a radio station in the musical capital of America…devoted to the musical artists of that very place with programming not dictated by polls and data gathering and huckstering but by love and, again, devotion.
His name was, and is, Walter Brock. The station is WWOZ, on the air since December 4th, 1980 at 90.07 FM: The Guardians of the Groove.
As usual these days you don’t have to be within earshot of New Orleans itself to hear the radio…they stream — and a whole lot else — from their website at wwoz.org.
Several months after having arrived Walter was joined by another dreamer who became co-founder of WWOZ, his brother Jerry. In 1992 Jerry, with one hundred CDs, would go on together with partner Barry Smith to found record shop The Louisiana Music Factory (Jerry left the shop in Barry’s hands in 2001).
WWOZ’s operating license was transferred in 1986 to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation (which runs the festival), but till today the station maintains its amateur aspects (in the original sense; “amateur” derives from “lover of” in French)…the DJs are unpaid volunteers playing mostly from their own personal collections of music.