Friday, August 5, 2016


Once upon a time, long ago, Willis Conover produced his Jazz Hour for the Voice of America. Willis' voice was like magic. All over the world, on shortwave radio, including thousands of listeners behind the Iron Curtain, people listened to Willis Conover talk about jazz and play the music.

The VOA even had a State Department Band, if you can believe that. There are stories of Willis arriving in some nation by air, and the crowd welcoming him was much bigger than for the President of the USA. If people in other countries heard Willis talking on the street, they did not know what he looked like, but they would come to him and ask, "Are you Willis Conover."

The baritone mellow voice of Willis became the standard for jazz presenters on virtually all radio stations the same way in which Vin Skully became the voice to mimic by all baseball announcers in the 1960s.

We no longer have ambassadors like Willis Conover. We have no culture to offer the world anymore. We have only bombs and threats, and our State Department insults and slanders world leaders with impunity.

So, here is a special program honoring Willis Conover. This was the America I knew as a kid, and it is GONE.