By Ryan Sparks
On Dec. 6, the staff, volunteers, and fans of WWOZ got down at Tipitina’s uptown in honor of the radio station’s 33rd birthday. Like many birthday celebrations in New Orleans, the Thursday night party was just a kickoff. This weekend everyone is invited to get down (again) in the Treme, just a few blocks from the former home of the station’s studios in Armstrong Park.
Today, Saturday December 7th, from 12 p.m.-4 p.m., the community-supported jazz and heritage station will host a block party in front of Kermit Ruffins’ Speakeasy at 1535 Basin Street. Kermit will provide the barbecue, and the Baby Boyz Brass Band and bluesman Guitar Slim, Jr. will supply the music.
WWOZ has come a long way since it began broadcasting pre-recorded shows from a small room upstairs at Tipitina’s, but the focus has always been on keeping Louisiana music—jazz, funk, zydeco, and blues—in heavy rotation on the airwaves and supporting the musicians who make it. This past year the station expanded its regional reach with a new transmitter capable of pumping music from Plaquemines to the Northshore and began a new series called Cuttin’ Class that brings middle and high school student bands into the studio to perform. That inclusive, all-ages attitude will be in the air on Saturday afternoon. Ryan Sparks is a writer living in New Orleans. He edits the online arts and culture magazine Southern Glossary.