Barrington Wilson is one of WTJU’s newest jazz hosts, becoming part of the station’s DJ lineup during the pandemic. Every other Tuesday night, he hosts Straight No Filter from 9 – 11 p.m.
In anticipation of WTJU’s upcoming Jazz Marathon, we asked Barrington about his experience of WTJU.
Why did you get involved at the station?
My wife was perusing the WTJU web page one day and noticed that WTJU recruits folks from the surrounding community as potential volunteer DJs. So I sent the Jazz and Blues director, David Eisenman, a list of some songs I might want to play if I ever had the chance to get on the radio for an hour. David responded by requesting we meet and talk. And he invited me to sit with him during a couple of broadcasts of his Induced To Judder show. So I got some first hand observation of what was involved in being a DJ.
He also suggested I sit in with at least one other DJ. I made a request to our Jazz Messenger host, Brian Keena. And Brian was very gracious and accommodating and let me sit with him on numerous occasions, even co-hosting his show on many occasions during the latter part of 2019 and into the Spring of 2020. So I learned much from both Brian and David. And I also had the opportunity to sub for a few shows, giving me a feel for what solo hosting was all about. When an opening was available, David offered to let me alternate as a co-host with Eric on Straight No Filter. It’s been a very fun and wonderful experience. Something I often dreamed of doing in the past, but never suspected I’d actually get an opportunity to do.
What has it been like DJing during the pandemic?
It’s been a very positive experience. It’s allowed me to focus on something I’ve loved for a very long time. One of my goals has been to help others focus on the positive during this period. And I am grateful for being able to share so much of the music I love with others who might enjoy it just as much. During some of the shows, I’ve received phone calls from listeners on a few occasions. They’ve commented on something they’ve enjoyed but may not have heard before. Other comments have been about something they are very familiar with, but which has affected them in a positive way. And that has been very gratifying, knowing that it’s impacted others in a positive way.
What show are you hosting during this Jazz Marathon?
I’ll be hosting a show focusing on the music of Henry Mancini, “Beyond The Pink Panther.” Henry Mancini composed so much music for both film and television. But it was always much more than simple background music. His music certainly complements the film and television narratives they were written for. However each of his compositions stands on its own as a musical statement. Which is what any great art should do. And Mancini’s melodies always linger in the mind long after the performance has ended.
How did you come to love jazz music?
I think I love jazz music because it’s so appealing on both an emotional and intellectual level. For me, the most important aspect of music is emotional. But as you listen to more and more of this music, you realize these great artists have a complete grasp of both the intellectual and emotional aspects of the discipline. And the improvisatory aspect of the music is so fascinating. You can hear the same artist perform the same piece of music scores of times, yet each interpretation is very different.
How do you choose what you’re going to play?
I choose what I play based on how I may be feeling on that a particular day. But I also try to mix it up. Fast tempos, ballads, vocals, even occasional soul and funk. Because all this music is closely related. I think music is often categorized in an arbitrary fashion. Sure, there are different approaches and styles, but certain styles or genres grow out of others styles or genres. And of course, they cross pollinate, so to speak. So I think mixing it up (throwing different “curves”) can help to maintain the listener’s attention and foster an appreciation of how so much of this music is related on an emotional and spiritual level.
How do you fill up your days when you’re not putting together radio shows?
As retirees, my wife and I are fortunate to be able to occupy our days based on the whim of the moment! But I also do a lot of reading. And we often go for long drives. Central Virginia is a very beautiful place. I find the topography of the land and the views of the Blue Ridge very inspiring, So we definitely take advantage of that!
Why should someone donate to WTJU’s Jazz Marathon?
Anyone spending as little as an hour or two listening to WTJU on a weekly basis should donate if they are in a position to do so. You get such a range of music on any given day. And the arts are not to be taken for granted. WTJU truly is a radio venue promoting that art. Though I lived in the NYC metropolitan area for many years (and it certainly has several outstanding non-commercial radio venues), I find WTJU unique, even in comparison to what’s available in the NYC area. I think the idea of having volunteer DJs hosting the shows gives the station that unique feel. You hear such a wide range of music that a range of hosts love. Played solely based on that love of the music. And we all learn from each other. I think that’s what makes WTJU truly unique.