The KPLU Christmas Jam, Thursday Dec. 10, marks the 19th year of a holiday jazz musical tradition.
The Christmas Jam started at KPLU nearly two decades ago by the general manager of KPLU, Joey Cohn, in the second floor of the administration building. Its purpose was to celebrate jazz music in a festive way and put a spotlight on the University’s jazz program. Each year brings different sounds of the season, featuring different professionals playing different songs and arrangements.
Today, it has graduated to the Karen Hille Phillips Concert Hall. This year KPLU is teaming up with Pacific Luteheran University’s Jazz ensembles – Stormy Monday and Ruby Tuesday – and high-profile jazz musicians to draw a packed house with hundreds of thousands of listeners on the radio and online. This year features tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz, a well known jazz figure from Seattle.
Arrangements and famous faces aren’t the only things that are different this year. The question everyone may be asking is how this pending sale is affecting KPLU, especially this time of the year. News of the sale and the resulting fallout sparked a debate on whether the KPLU Christmas Jam should still take place this winter.
“We decided that it was a good idea to go on with the show because the audience enjoys it, and I don’t want to shortchange the students. I want to give them the opportunity,” Cohn said. “I think it just still made sense to put on a show for the reasons that we’d put on a show anyway: that it’s a wonderful holiday tradition, people enjoy, it makes for good radio programming and it’s a fun free show for our audience.”
As for whether this will be the last time, “the people who are in charge of the new entity will make that decision.”
KPLU’s history with the University pivots around giving opportunities to students both at PLU and in the community.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is giving the students the opportunities to start their careers in media,” Cohn said. “Somebody needs to give you a chance, somebody needs to take a chance on you and give you that break […] I’m very pleased that I’ve had the opportunity to pay it back in that way.”