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26 February 2020

Jazz FM turns 30

Pioneering radio station Jazz FM is turning 30 years old on 4th March 2020 and has announced a burst of activity to mark the special occasion.  Having first launched on 4th March in 1990, the station has become the centre of the jazz community – helping launch the careers of several breakthrough artists; including Jamie Cullum and Gregory Porter, as well as a host of specialist and emerging acts from Kamasi Washington to Ezra Collective.

The station has today announced special birthday programming to mark their anniversary next month. Welcoming a number of special guests and artists as well as sharing rare broadcast clips from the original launch 30 years ago, the 4th March will be a real celebration of the longevity of the influential station.

Programming on the day will include the below:

  • DIANA LUKE CO-HOSTS BREAKFAST – Original Jazz FM Breakfast host Diana Luke will join Breakfast presenter, Nigel Williams in the studio to co-host the show. Having first launched the station 30 years ago, Diana will relive the moment Jazz FM launched, and share stories from the first day as well as across the years.
  • SPECIAL GUESTS – A number of guests will be popping into the station throughout the day, joining presenters including Anne Frankenstein and Jamie Crick. Expect interviews from Jazz FM Award winner Shabaka Hutchings, Tomorrows Warriors legends Gary Crosby and Janine Irons, and former presenter Robbie Vincent.  Plus, many more to come!
  • ON THIS DAY – Reflecting on an incredible 30 years on air, there will be special programming mirroring the day of launch. From 6pm, ‘Jazz FM’s Greatest’ will play and hour of music from the station’s first day, followed by ‘Dinner Jazz’ at 7pm which will feature an exclusive recording of Jazz FM founding shareholders and British Jazz royalty Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine recorded live at Carnegie Hall in New York on 4th March 1990.
  • “OUR FIRST DAY” – Later at 9pm, listeners can hear a special soundscape reflecting the first day of transmission. With help from the British Library’s ‘Save Our Sounds’ project, listeners can access rare recordings from the station’s first day on-air that have not been heard since, including a launch day interviews with Ella Fitzgerald, Cleveland Watkiss and Steve Williamson alongside late presenters George Reid and Peter Young.
  • SOMETHIN’ ELSE AT 30 – Presenter’s Jez Nelson and Chris Philips will join forces for a special live ‘Somethin’ Else’ at 10pm – the programme they co-created in 1990.

Even Jazz FM’s Business Breakfast will not be left out – from 6am Michael Wilson will be joined by veteran market commentator David Buik and together they will be reflecting on the changes and trends over three decades of business, economic and political news. 

In addition to the birthday programming, on 14th March, the station will feature Ella at the Royal Albert Hall – the special concert that the legendary Ella Fitzgerald performed in 1990 to launch Jazz FM. Prior to that, Nigel Williams’ Saturday show will also feature the original Ella interview in full.

Speaking about the birthday programming, Jazz FM Content Director, Nick Pitts said “Jazz FM has been at the centre of UK radio and the worldwide jazz community for 30 years.  We are lucky that our listeners hold the brand dear and we want to thank them for that loyalty with some amazing content that I know they will love. 

“To be able to celebrate our birthday by inviting Diana Luke back to the station to co-host the programme that she launched the station with.  But this day is just the tip of the iceberg of celebration throughout 2020 with more exciting content to come.”

On her part in Jazz FM history, Diana Luke said “It was such a thrill to be the first host on Jazz FM and to open up the radio station; it was a game-changing moment and especially for someone who loves jazz and blues like I do! I know the station has had many incarnations since 1990, but the music is always going to be the winner with an eclectic mix and something for everyone. I can’t wait to be back on air with Nigel Williams on March 4th, sharing some of those treasured memories”

Celebrations for the anniversary will continue throughout the year, with more activity to be announced in due course. Last week it was announced that the Jazz FM Awards are to return to London’s Shoreditch Town Hall on 27th May.


– ENDS –


For further press information, please contact:

Cat Martin – Bauer Media Communications Director (Radio)

M: 07932 746 363

Amelia O’Shea – Bauer Media Communications Manager (Radio)

M: 07718 489342

About Jazz FM:

Jazz FM is the largest commercial jazz station in the world, celebrating the complete spectrum of Jazz in all its colourful forms since 1990.  Jazz FM broadcasters, producers and team are true devotees, with a deep love and understanding of their particular Jazz shade, their passion is vivid, their enthusiasm infectious, sharing the finest jazz with everyone. As the UK’s only dedicated Jazz broadcaster, Jazz FM is on a mission to entertain, promote and celebrate all that’s great about Jazz. Involvement with national festivals and awards is part of this – setting the bar high for live performance, recognising outstanding talent and strengthening the Jazz community.

No matter how people tune-in they always listen in colour.

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