Round-The-Clock Online Jazz Station Opens Up In UK

By Mike Hennessey

How about a Jazz station which broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offers a choice of six to eight different programmes? How about a Jazz station which can provide a publicity and promotion service to musicians seeking to extend their audience?

How about a Jazz station from which you can get news of Jazz events and information about new Jazz CDs and DVDs and which has an online shop from which you can order Jazz records and books?

And how about a Jazz station which feature articles on Jazz topics, provides talk channels and will help musicians to create their own home pages?

Well such a station exists in Germany, it is and it was founded six years ago by Jazz pianist Uwe Leiber. And the good news is that he has just inaugurated a UK affiliate. Any British Jazz fan with a PC and a Real player can access the station by going to HYPERLINK "" and clicking on the Union Jack.

The radio website is a tri-lingual service, in English, Greek and German. Musicians make use of the station to present their music and there are live chat discussions available in 14 different languages, English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Finnish, Portuguese, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Polish. Slovakian and Turkish - which bring together, Jazz fans from all around the world.

Uwe Leiber was born and raised in Esslingen, near Stuttgart. After high school he made his living as a Jazz pianist, playing in hotel bars and nightclubs. His passion for music led, in 1990, to his joining the Stuttgart-based German public service broadcasting company, S¸ddeutscher Rundfunk/S¸dwest Rundfunk, where he worked as an archivist. He was responsible for the audio and video recording of many hundreds of Jazz performances and, in 1994, he was appointed editor responsible for Jazz TV productions.

In 1995 Uwe Leiber became the European representative of the European Broadcasting Union for the channels ARD, 3SAT, ARTE and SW3 and was responsible for many TV productions, including European Jazz Night.

It became a matter of increasing concern to Leiber that the airplay given to his favourite music form, Jazz, in Germany was constantly diminishing. He deplored the fact that the broadcasting media consistently underestimated the interest there is in the music form. (Sales of Jazz records in Germany represent about 2% of the total record market, so even assuming that only people who buy Jazz records are interested in the music, radio and television stations should devote at least 2% of their airtime to Jazz, which would amount to about three and a half hours a week for a 24-hour station. Some hope!).

In 1996, Leiber formed the communications company, LeiCom GmbH, one of whose first projects was the design and development of the SDR Jazz website. One year later he created as a site for Jazz musicians and enthusiasts, and people who want to know more about Jazz.

But by the year 2000, practically every Jazz broadcast had been deleted from the SWR programme, and Leiber decided to devote himself to his goal of promoting Jazz and catering for lovers of the music with renewed vigour. He founded a book publishing company and also set up a record distribution subsidiary, which currently handles a catalogue of 750 Jazz CDs and DVDs on 30 different independent labels from the USA, UK (String Jazz recordings by Chris Burden) Germany, France (Cristal Records), Belgium (Jazz'n Pulz by Bob Hagen) Spain, Switzerland and Brazil.

In co-operation with the Stuttgart University for Media, Leiber created Jazz-network radio in 2001, with the University providing the technical support and Leiber the content.

Visitors to the site can listen to the various music channels, but the music cannot be downloaded. Categories available include modern, mainstream, big band Jazz, traditional, nu & retro and Jazz latino, with each channel offering anything from 100 to 800 different titles, streaming in stereo and CD quality.

In 2002, Leiber further expanded his company's activities by setting up a press and promotion service for artists and record labels and, in 2003, he founded a music publishing company.

Recent developments have included a Europe-wide booking agency and a radio production service for Jazz festivals, and Uwe Leiber's next major aim is to create an FM Jazz radio station accessible by cable and satellite.

Currently jazz-network radio is registering 250,000 visits a month, with 30% of it audience in the USA, 30% in South America and 30% in Europe. The station attracts Jazz listeners from all over the world, including Peru and China.

The UK affiliate is being run by Uwe Leiber's associate, Christiane Waltl, who is based in Luton where she is taking a course in graphic design at the local university and is running the UK office.

Says Leiber: "We want to help promote British musicians and get engagements for them through publicity and promotion activity. If they want to come to work in Germany, we have good contacts here and if the want their CDs distributed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, we can also help them with this. I now had an address book of about 850 Jazz journalists and editors in Germany.

"We also want to create a press office providing the British press with information about British Jazz musicians."

by Mike Hennessey

All rights reserved. Jazz Now July 2004 issue

Jazz Now Interactive July 2004 Vol 14 No. 3 - Table of Contents