Host Profile: Brian Keena

Name: Brian Keena

Show: The Jazz Messenger, Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

What’s your day job? Licensed Massage Therapist

How long have you been a host at WTJU? 15 years

Why did you become a WTJU host?
I’ve always enjoyed good radio. Hosts that care about the music. Or hosts that have a story to tell. Growing up in the NY Metro area in the 1960s and 1970s, I was heavily influenced by and still am influenced by what I heard. A small smattering would include: Bob and Ray, Cousin Brucie, Wolfman Jack, The Mighty WFMU, Jean Shepherd, Joe Franklin, Joe Franks, Harry Harrison, Steve “The Schmooze” Summers, Ron Lundy, Scott Muney, Dan Ingram, Phil Schapp, Vin Scelsa, Lou D’Antonio, Frank Ballesteire, and Rhonda Hamilton.

Why should someone tune into your show in particular?
My take on jazz music, that gigantic genre that includes R&B, Soul, 50s and 60s pop, bebop, hard bop, blues, Raymond Scott commercials, modern, post modern, hip hop, R&R, Spike Jones. I treat the artists and the music with respect yet I don’t take it too seriously, like we are in a goddamn museum. I try and make it all relevant. Somehow. And I love trains.

Tell us about one of your biggest gaffes while in the studio:
Every week I have a gaffe. A big one was back in 2006, at Lambeth Commons, when I “accidentally” took us off the air for an agonizing 87 seconds. Thanks to Morgan McLeod for seeing my flailing arms from the production studio and gracefully bailing me out.

Favorite moments in the air studio?
Opening the mic at 10am on a Friday morning. I feel a profound privilege to have a show.

If you could interview anyone on air, dead or alive, who would it be?
Jean Shepherd, one of my radio heroes. Because he’s Jean Shepherd.

How has it felt being a radio host during this pandemic?
It feels like even more of a privilege to host a radio show during the pandemic.

What are your passions outside of music?
Walking the RTF Trail, playing with guitar effects pedals, learning Spanish, cleaning out my chicken coop.

Why does WTJU matter?
We are a rare breed of radio stations in the 21st Century. If you’re reading this, you get it.

How have you seen WTJU change in your time here? How have you seen Charlottesville change?
The physical changes to WTJU (new studio) as well as to C’ville. WTJU using computers in our programming, yet we can still spin vinyl. That’s pretty cool. When will the goddamn Dewberry Hotel be torn down, as well as the commemorative monuments to the insurrectionists?

What could WTJU do better?
A dedicated hip hop show. A dedicated Spanish speaking show. Dedicated web streams for those in the community who are ready to play. We could do this!

Would you rather be a famous singer or be able to bring your favorite deceased singer back to life?
I don’t have a favorite deceased singer; there are too many. It would be really cool to have Oscar Brown, Jr., around today, particularly in these polarized times.

Would you rather be trapped in an elevator with a banjo player, a bagpipes player, or an accordion player?
Most definitely an accordion player.

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