Sunday, September 16, 2007

An observation for the digital age

I am a jazz lover. I am overjoyed when I find a new jazz station online, especially one that doesn't play "smooth" jazz but the old classics. A few years ago I came across The Spirit, the tribute station to San Francisco's former KJAZ. I have spent many hours listening to it and the wonderful voice of Jerry Dean (whose pipes could only make a former broadcaster like me jealous).

Then it went dark -- just as the new Internet radio fees kicked in. I figured it was a victim. I clicked several times in the past weeks. Only silence.

Then tonight, one last time. Lo and behold, The Spirit (Shoutcast feed) was back. I was overjoyed.

The joy lasted just a moment as the station marquee scrolled across my Winamp player -- "In Memory of Jerry Dean, 9/07" it said.

That, of course, set me off on an online search, where I was able to learn from an iTunes discussion group what had happened (he died Sept. 5) and was led to a condolences book where I was able to post a message. (The book is there till Oct. 8.)

And as I was doing it, it occurred to me that this is an emblem of how our society has changed in just a short decade -- that a little old college instructor in South Carolina can enjoy the sounds of a great radio personality from California who he would never otherwise have met, learn of his death and express his condolences, all from a little box on his desktop.

Whether we want to believe it or not, we have all been brought closer together as human beings.

(I hope the Spirit stays on the air and I hope the Web site, which no longer has accurate URLs for the Shoutcast feed, is updated. Can you think of a more fitting memorial in this digital age?)

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