Welcome to MikeL's podcast for Ken Wiley's The Art of Jazz - podcast history.

I am just another Seattle area listener of KPLU FM. I detest the commercial part of commercial radio, and discovered public radio in the early 1980's. I became a KPLU fan about this time, and eventually became a contributing listener. The reason I became a contributing listener is Ken Wiley.

I grew up as an "Eighties Album Rocker". (I'm still proud to admit that I can name every song in order on every album for Led Zepplin and a about a thousand others within about a tenth of a second of the song intro - I consistently beat the Shazam app!) Nowadays I'd be classified as a fan of the "Classic Rock" genre - but back in the eighties, this was not available anywhere in a non-commercial format. For this I'm grateful, as it encouraged me to discover Jazz, in all it's many forms.

Seriously - "Tom Shane, your friend in the diamond business" is STILL hyping his wares on the "Classic Rock" stations that I used to love - THIRTY YEARS LATER. This is why I gave up on those rock stations - you can blame Tom Shane among others.

I discovered Jazz via KBCS from Bellevue Community College, and KPLU from Tacoma. Both of these are non-commercial stations. I'm not sure exactly when I first heard Ken Wiley's show, but I started going out of my way to tune in to it in the early 1990's. By the mid-1990's I would hide out in my basement every Sunday afternoon in order to listen to the show. However, life was continuously getting in the way of listening, so I realized that I needed to time-delay these shows so I wouldn't miss them entirely.

I began weekly recording in 2004. I purchased a "RadioShark" which is an FM radio that plugs into the USB port of your computer allowing you to record live. Mechanically this is a radio, thus was susceptible to all the vagueries of FM broadcast. The first few years of this podcast were recorded in this fashion. In the episodes there will be FM dropouts and hiss.

Each week I would ftp the files up to a private directory on a server of mine. Private podcasting wasn't practical then, so to listen to it, you'd have to ftp it down to your computer (with modems of the time this could easily take over an hour), then come back later and listen to it.

I told a friend of mine who is another Ken Wiley fan about this, and he was thrilled. As described above, I really, really, really detest commercials. I'm not real fond of public radio psuedo-commercials either. Knowing that I had an audience, instead of just copying these recording files up to the server each week, I would listen through the episode, jotting down the time of each commercial, then go back into an audio editor, and take out any preceding stuff (typically a snippet of Jim Wilke's Jazz NW show), any trailing stuff (typically Star Date and All Blues), and cut out all the commercials. I thought about things like should I include everything Ken says, even if it's basically a commercial? In the end, yes, I did - I even keep Ken doing Pledge Drive blather - oftentimes, it's worth it. I also considered putting in a little teeny beep for every edit so listeners would know where I'd edited. I chose not to do this, mostly as it would have just been more work for me.

Soon after KPLU started web streaming (2008?), I changed over to using StreamRipper to record directly onto my home Windows computer. I was still plagued by power outages, special broadcast delays, Windows not correctly resetting the clock on Daylight Saving Time changes, etc, but no longer do we have FM hiss and dropouts. At some point the stream turned to mono - then back to stereo... Another problem was that the KPLU stream would get behind a few seconds now and then - over time this would build up enough that the show would begin late enough to lose the intro. For this reason I lengthened the recording guard time before and after the show to 4 mins each.

In mid-2009, KPLU caught up to modern technologies and started doing song tagging. StreamRipper is trying to do you a favor, and changes over to a new file each time the tag changes, assuming this is a new song. (I've since figured out how to suppress this behaviour.) This caused me all sorts of trouble when they first started doing it - one particular day the tags bounced back and forth between a few generic names like "kplu 88.5 fm" and "kplu.org" etc. over a hundred times. It took me days to stitch this mess back together into a single contiguous episode.

After a few years of editing the episodes, I realized that I had not actually listened to an episode in months as I didn't have time to edit them. The files simply sat on my hard drive, untouched. In 2014 I realized that I had not done anything with these files since mid-2009. I had managed to hear some Ken Wiley live on the FM, but I had not actually listened through an episode in 5 years! This is partly a reflection on how busy my life had become, but mostly the problem was that I did not have the time to listen to the show and edit out the pseudo-commercials. I finally realized that I had to give up on the audio editing, that I'd never have the time again to do this - I had to automate 100%, and settle for the commercials in the final product.

At this point (Nov-2014) I had been an iPod/iPhone user for years, and was quite aware of podcasting. I decided it was time for a podcast for my own convenience. I have a FreeBSD Unix server (in downtown Seattle where the power is reliable and the internet is really fast), so I set up StreamRipper to directly record The Art of Jazz each week. There is no audio editing, the recordings are verbatim including a guard area of a few minutes before and after. I wrote a Perl script to add it automatically to this website on the .rss page. The episodes appear automatically in the rss feed at 4 minutes after the show completes.

Another issue was that StreamRipper was originally saving in .aac format, which at the time, was effectively Apple specific. I wanted anyone with any equipment to be able to hear these shows, so when I realized this, I immediately fixed it to record to .mp3. Unfortunately, I now needed to convert almost all shows from 2009-2013! I couldn't find a freeware convertor program, so this task got put on hold - until 2018! I was able to convince my kid to use his student copy of the Adobe Premiere Elements program to convert some, and I have since used ffmpeg to handle those files with my favorite audio editor CoolEdit (now Adobe Audition). So the moral of the story is that there are still episodes from this era that are missing, but I have them, I just need to make the time to convert, and am uploading as time permits.

Throughout all the years, the recordings have occasional other issues. I live in a semi-rural area and we get power outages most every winter. Sometimes they would interupt an episode, or even prevent any recording at all due to no power from 3pm-6pm on a Sunday. There were occasional KPLU special shows (like when they opened the new Martin J. Neeb Center 04-Oct-2009) that caused Ken's show to be shortened by an hour. There was an episode cancelled by (Gulf?) war coverage. Windows and the RadioShark used to both try to compensate for Daylight Saving Time changes so if I didn't reboot the computer before the next recording, I'd lose the first or last hour. In 2019 two episodes were lost when KPLU (now KNKX) changed over to a new URL for the live stream, which of course broke my StreamRipper app until I noticed it and was able to figure out the new URL. Oh, and in 2018 Mozilla (as well as most of the others) removed .rss support from their FireFox browser, which made it much harder to troubleshoot the .rss page. I've since added a text format parallel page.

[20220614] Several weeks ago, my streamripper app began to barf immediately at startup, and proceed to not record, argh! It happened on two geographically disparate computers (yes, I have a backup recorder!), so I knew the problem was caused by a change at their end. I missed 29-May-2022, I manually recorded 05 & 12-Jun-2022 both cut off a few mins early. With some google searching, I found what might be a solution, manually changed some streamripper source code (thank heavens for open source!), recompiled, crossed my fingers... Yes! It works again!

In summary, please forgive the fact that this is not a perfect podcast of The Art of Jazz. Regardless of the quality, I am proud of the fact that I have preserved this much (2004 - present, 18 years at this writing). I honestly hope that someday KPLU will come forth with a complete studio quality archive of the show and make it available, thus rendering all my work here moot - this would be the ideal.

Thanks for reading this, and please enjoy Ken Wiley's The Art of Jazz.

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