almost all the records i own are somewhere in the pop/techno spectrum, but i don't like listening to that stuff while i'm working. it's all over the map, mood-wise, and i find myself either bored by it or too emotionally engaged to get any work done. you can listen to twelve hours' worth of most jazz stations and the mood won't change significantly.
my first jazz station was kcsm, which i listened to over the air during the year i was living in the bay area. i think i'd been in exile here in tennessee for about a year when i had a look at their website, and they'd recently started up a stream i can get to via itunes. yay!
i have to say though, i'm pretty well burned out on them. almost all their djs drive me insane. particularly alisa clancy. just a couple of syllables of that woman's voice during a public service announcement is enough to make me reach for the mute button. (yes, windows users, mac keyboards have a mute button.) she's so pleased with herself, all self-satisfied and smug and condescending. i hope she gets cancer of the butt. i still tune in on sunday nights to hear mal sharpe and dave ramirez, but that's about it.
for a couple of months, it looked like kkjz would be my savior. the very first dj's voice i heard sounded familiar. i listened for awhile, trying to place it. it came to me: jeff bridges! you know, the actor! the voice was a dead ringer for him. i found myself picturing jeff's character in starman. i find it hard to believe, but not only is it not jeff bridges, but he's not even white. the dj in question is sam fields, who's been on the air for over thirty years. that guy is da bomb. so quiet and understated, never in a big rush to call attention to himself, the way most djs are. far and away my favorite dj of all time. alas, he's on in the afternoons, when i'm asleep. i'm a night owl.
the guy who's usually on when i'm awake is -- sigh -- james janisse. just look at that guy. with a face like that, how could he NOT be unctuous and slimy? he's all like "hey, baby. i'm your Love Man. i'm going to do my barry white impression to let you know how suave and sophisticated i am. after i play this next piece, i'll chuckle knowingly, informing you how much i enjoyed it, and that you should appreciate it too. do i have good taste, or what? DAMN, baby."
i started waiting out the bad djs on kkjz by listening to di.fm, something i found in itunes' list of jazz stations. it's not really a radio station, in the usual sense. i assume they have djs, but they don't ever talk, not even for station ids. they play some interesting stuff sometimes. occasionally, a little too interesting. there's a strain of "experimental" jazz that seems to foster thinking like "hey, you know what would be cool? i'm going to make my trumpet bleat like a wounded sheep for forty minutes straight! awesome!" generally i can't listen to di.fm for more than an hour or two without being driven away by stuff like that.
tonight i went on another google-quest for new stations. most are quickly ruled out, because their streams require realplayer or windows media. absolutely not. microsoft is doing their damndest to kill everything interesting in my industry, and real is almost as slimy. give me an itunes-compatible stream or give me death.
i found wduq, which seems promising. their standard mp3 stream is 24kbps mono and sounds awful, but they've also got a 48kbps stereo stream that uses aac and requires quicktime, the first time i've ever encountered such a thing. pro: aac is an apple-only technology, which is good for anti-ms bigots like me. con: it won't work through itunes, you have to use the quicktime player directly. i don't like that. but they've got npr shows, morning edition and teri gross and stuff. i guess i'll give them a go for awhile.
addendum: sam fields died in september 2005, aged 55. james janisse was fired in march, 2006. after more than ten years on the air, mal sharpe's radio show went dark in march, 2012.