A tribute to Professor Bebop, who just retired after a half century of WTJU hosting
On October 11, 2022, Dave Rogers – aka “Professor Bebop” – hosted his last regular show on WTJU after 49 years of on-air broadcasting. He has been a fixture of not just WTJU but the whole community. To get a sense of his presence, check out this profile of Professor Bebop, published in 2016 in UVA Today.
In the coming months, WTJU will gather and share tributes and highlights from Professor Bebop’s archive.
For now, we share this tribute written by fellow WTJU jazz DJ Rus Perry and shared on-air during Dave’s last show:
Dave, there is no question that you have had a huge influence on WTJU and more broadly on the cultural scene of central Virginia. Having been your radio brother for almost 50 years, I’d like to offer some thoughts. So, in the words of the eloquent Professor, “Let’s elucidate.”
Here’s what I love.
I have loved your continued rejection of the tyranny of genres. Back in the day, many of us broadcast a broad sweep of music, from Rock to RnB to Blues to Country to Reggae to Jazz. Over time these boundaries became more structured and maybe our audiences’ expectations did as well. I love that you have kept your ears and options open and we are still likely to hear you play Willie The Lion Smith, the Howlin Wolf, the Swamp Dogg, the Bonzo Dog Band and “Can Your Monkey Do the Dog” or the Jive Five, The “5” Royales, the Kansas City Five, the Hot Five, The Tympani Five, the Dave Clark Five, Take Five or the Sir Douglas Quintet.
I have loved hearing you expound musically on topics like authenticity, apprehension, anxiety, justice or truth.
I have loved how passionate you are about communication.
I have loved how encyclopedic your knowledge is of RnB. One of my proudest radio moments was playing “Rusty Hinge” a Chick Webb tune featuring a very young Louis Jordan on a marathon show and having you say, with raised eyebrows, “I’ve never heard this!” Imagine playing a new Louis Jordan tune for the Professor. It turns out that Newcastle had room for another shovel of coal.
I have loved the many hours of hanging out and watching you work the radio including diving into important topics like “What was the first Rock ’n’ Roll record?” or “What does the Frankenstein Walk look like?” There are extant photos of a late-night in-studio exploration of the latter.
I have loved being introduced to new music and new artists. For the past several years you have careful brought newly released jazz to our audience weekly, but this part of your radio offering goes way back. Many of us can identify music we heard for the first time on your shows. For me, that includes William Bell, Louis Jordan, the “5” Royales, Lillian Leach and the Mellows, the Nutmegs, Wynonie Harris, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and, more recently, my friend and teacher Charles Owens. I believe that in the early 70’s, I first heard Robert Johnson, Bruce Springsteen, and Leon Redbone at listening sessions at your place.
I have loved that you have represented all that is right and righteous about WTJU to generations of listeners and announcers. You have been professional, playful, outraged, generous and entertaining now for almost 50 years. It is not surprising to hear fellow announcers say the “You ARE WTJU.”
I have loved McVoutie O-Reenie-Mo, whatever that is…
And yes, Pete, when Dave was a principal, his office not only had a poster of Hendrix, but also one of Elvis with a book and the big type saying “Read.”
So keep the hip in your hop, the bip in your bop, some gas in your mop, blow top and now now now you just don’t stop.
Two words … two heartfelt words, shared by many of us who have joined you for some portion of this ride … Thank You.
We love you, Professor Bebop.