Longtime WWOZ-FM program director Dwayne Breashears has resigned, effective April 1.
Breashears has worked at the community radio station, which bills itself as the “guardian of the groove” of New Orleans music, for 18 years.
As program director, he oversaw everything WWOZ listeners hear over the airwaves at 90.7 FM, including the volunteer DJs, the announcements and live broadcasts from festivals and concerts.
“After 18 years — half the lifetime of the station and half my adult life — it was time to explore other opportunities,” Breashears said Wednesday. “I never wanted to do only one thing in my life and be painted into a corner. As I’m getting older, I’m realizing there’s so much more to do in life. I never want to look back and say, ‘I wish I had. …’ ”
Breashears’ is the latest, and highest-profile, staff departure at WWOZ. By his count, he is the seventh employee to leave in the past year, a figure that equates to roughly a third of the station’s paid, full-time staffers. The departure of so many co-workers factored into his own decision to step down, he said.
“These are not just co-workers and friends — they are family members,” Breashears said. “When people who are close to you leave, you think, ‘Maybe it’s time for me to look at other opportunities, too.’
“WWOZ is a family. Like any other family, we love each other, and we fight. That doesn’t mean your love for the station has changed. The station is something I will believe in until I draw my last breath. If it wasn’t important to me, I wouldn’t have stayed 18 years.”
Breashears said he finalized his decision to resign last week, following an especially long day of broadcasting from a Wednesday at the Square concert in Lafayette Square.
Knowing that several more grueling weeks of live WWOZ broadcasts from the French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival were ahead, he concluded it was time to go: “I’m exhausted. I needed a break. My battery is depleted.”
That said, he looks forward to enjoying Jazz Fest and French Quarter Festival as a civilian, he said: “I’ll be happy to lie in the grass at Jazz Fest and think, ‘I don’t have to answer my phone.’ I can take my time, and eat all the food.”