Willis Conover’s Jazz: A secret weapon in the Cold War

David Goren, Shortwaveology author and producer for Jazz at Lincoln Center, released a JazzStories Podcast today featuring VOA broadcaster, Willis Conover. Willis Conover is a noted name in both Jazz music and international broadcasting. His characteristic deep and articulate voice guided many shortwave listeners behind the iron curtain, into the realm of Jazz music.

Here is the description of the podcast from  Jazz at Lincoln Center:

During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the United States had a secret weapon: Willis Conover’s “Jazz Hour,” carried on the shortwave radio signals of The Voice of America across Russia and Eastern Europe:. Starting in 1955 and running for over forty years, ‘Jazz Hour’ nurtured generations of jazz musicians who grew up under the restrictions of Communism. On this edition of Jazz Stories we hear Willis Conover and two outstanding jazz musicians, Czech bassist George Mraz and Russian trumpeter Valery Ponomarev – both of whom learned about jazz from his broadcasts.

You can preview this podcast on the Jazz at Lincoln Center podcast page (look under “Jazz and the Cold War”) or simply subscribe and download it on iTunes.

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3 thoughts on “Willis Conover’s Jazz: A secret weapon in the Cold War

  1. Paul

    I wonder what has happened to the Tecsun R-2010 radio. Is the Degen DE321 the only DSP analog radio out there now?

    1. Thomas Post author

      To my knowledge, the DE321 and Kchibo KK-9803. I’ve reviewed both on the SWLing Post (hint: the Kchibo is junk). Last I heard, Tecsun was in the process of changing the design of the R-2010 in favor of something with a digital display. Not a bad idea as I discovered mixing digital tuning (with 5kHz steps) with an analog display is a bit quirky. I’ll keep you posted!


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