New Orleans radio station WWOZ is now almost synonymous with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, with a shared history that goes back almost to the founding of WWOZ.
In 1982, when WWOZ had been on the air for only a little over a year, station founders Jerry and Walter Brock and a few volunteers set up a tent at the Fair Grounds, got a phone line connection back to the studios above Tipitina’s and started interviewing musicians live on the air from the festival. Dr. John, Branford Marsalis, Pete Seeger, Bobby Charles and dozens more found their voices and music amplified at 90.7 FM.
In the mid-1980s, WWOZ started broadcasting live sets from Jazz Fest. Among the first was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s set on May 5, 1985.
The partnership between WWOZ and Jazz Fest was cemented in 1986 when WWOZ’s broadcast license was transferred to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the owner of Jazz Fest.
In those early years, WWOZ DJs sometimes were able to ride along with musicians in golf carts and conduct interviews while they were on their way to or from their performance.
In 1993, WWOZ began broadcasting every day from the festival, bringing listeners music from a variety of stages, including the Blues Tent, Jazz & Heritage Stage, Gentilly Stage, Congo Square, Fais Do-Do Stage and Economy Hall, among others.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell has stages named for sponsors, such as Acura; stages named for musical genres …
The broadcast has grown beyond the boundaries of WWOZ. Since the station started simulcasting, dozens of radio stations across the country have carried the live broadcasts from Jazz Fest. Audiences in Chicago, San Diego, Hawaii, St. Louis, Denver and all across the U.S. have tuned in to hear a taste of the best the festival has to offer. Recordings of these performances are at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Archive, accessible for research and future use.
WWOZ’s presence at the Fair Grounds is not purely on the radio. Since 1993, the station has been the official sponsor of the Jazz Tent, bringing audiences contemporary jazz sets from artists like Nicholas Payton, Christian Scott, Harry Connick Jr., Astral Project, Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Joey Alexander, Terence Blanchard, John Boutte and more.
In 1994, the station partnered with the festival to create the Brass Pass, a multiday ticket that allows for re-entry to the festival and serves as a fundraiser for the station. The WWOZ Hospitality Tent — an oasis for stressed-out music lovers with fresh fruit, iced coffee and mist fans — also was established that year for Brass Pass holders,
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell is an annual celebration of New Orleans music, spirit and culture — and WWOZ brings that celebration to the airwaves every day of the year as "New Orleans’ Jazz & Heritage Station."
The Cultural Exchange Pavilion was established at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell in 1996 to honor New Orleans…
The Jazz Fest at 50 series, celebrating the half-century anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, is a partnership between The New Orleans Advocate and WWOZ 90.7 FM.