Community

Voice of Vashon airs special 200th ‘Jazz Guy’ episode

Bill Wood is “the Jazz Guy.” - Rick Wallace photo
Bill Wood is “the Jazz Guy.”
— image credit: Rick Wallace photo

By SUSAN McCABE

For The Beachcomber

What started out as an exasperated wife’s clever trick to keep her retiree husband occupied has turned into an opus for Bill Wood — Voice of Vashon’s “Jazz Guy” — and a body of work that, this week, celebrates 200 hours of entertainment on voiceofvashon.org and VoV TV.

This week, Voice of Vashon joins Wood in celebrating his 200th episode of “The Jazz Guy,” a program he inaugurated in 2000 when his wife Jeanne Dougherty sought desperately to find something that would engage the creative mind of this retired Hollywood screenwriter.

The special one-hour 200th edition of “The Jazz Guy” will air for 24 hours on voiceofvashon.org on Sunday, Sept. 20.

This show is not just a walk down memory lane for Wood, his audio engineer and production comrade Michael Golen-Johnson, Golen-Johnson’s zany wife Elizabeth and Wood’s actress wife, Dougherty. Rather, the 200th show is a farcical spoof on radio call-in shows and the characters who populate them. It is

also a well-produced showcase for jazz and Bill Wood’s deep knowledge thereof.

Islanders who tune in on their computers from midnight Sept. 19 to midnight Sept. 20 will catch the one-hour romp through music and mayhem. Or people may see it on VoV TV Comcast Cable Channel 21 — with hilarious images of the Jazz Guy gang “in studio,” at 11 a.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Jazz lovers and jazz newbies alike may tune in to hear music like the “Theme from Elvira Madigan” by Amadeus Mozart.

Wood’s 200 hours of “The Jazz Guy” represent not only the creative output of a lively mind, but the launching pad for Wood’s enduring commitment to Voice of Vashon. In the nine years he’s been involved with VoV, Wood has been its board president twice, its nearly interminable vice president and its treasurer.

Wood’s journey with “The Jazz Guy” parallels Voice of Vashon’s life span.

“We’re both survivors,” said Wood. In the nine years since he started recording “The Jazz Guy” — a weekly show that’s never missed a beat — Wood, 77, has been in the emergency room three times, lost a front tooth, replaced his pacemaker and been forced to give up alcohol, sugar and coffee. “I think I’ll be doing this

show in hospice,” he said.

Since 2000, Wood’s be-loved VoV has survived signal piracy, technical interruptions, financial uncertainty and — best of all — dramatic expansion, from a simple one-watt Island radio station to a local media conglomerate with webcast radio, VoV TV Channel 21 and an Island-wide travelers’ information service station on 1650AM.

Throughout those nine tumultuous years, Wood has not only produced a weekly show, he has been the enduring presence among volunteers and, ultimately, he’s become the heart of Voice of Vashon. This week he adds “audio programming czar” to his list of monikers, putting him in charge of all programming for voiceofvashon.org.

“Expect more and better music,” he said.

Wood, the quintessential on-air radio volunteer, by his own admission “has no evidence of an audience for his show,” but keeps doing it “because it’s so much fun and I’ve always dreamed of having my own jazz show.”

He’s done jazz shows about flowers, insects, rivers and streams, dreams, Halloween, transportation and communication. In fact, it is still possible to hear vintage “Jazz Guy” shows on VoV’s regular weekly schedule, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. every weekday on voiceofvashon.org.

Of course, “the Jazz Guy” couldn’t happen if many other Islanders hadn’t joined Wood in keeping VoV alive. The celebration of Jazz Guy 200 is more than a tribute to Bill Wood. It’s a celebration of the growing life force that is Voice of Vashon, the Island’s independent community media conglomerate.

— Susan McCabe is Voice of Vashon’s television operations director.

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