Ron Barkel began volunteering as the host of “Dr Jazz” in the summer of 1987 after producing the hour long program of “traditional Dixieland jazz” on WBYW, a small community radio station for three years. Ron has produced the “Dr Jazz” program for WGVU FM for 24 years, with his final show aired on Sunday, July 10, 2011.
Ron credits Mrs. Jazz, his wife Nancy, for getting him on WGVU. “My wife had said, ‘Why don’t you try to get your show on WGVU radio?’ so I came over to Grand Valley one day and talked to some fellows and they said, ‘When can you start?’ which surprised me. I didn’t think anybody wanted “Dr Jazz” on as good of a radio station as WGVU! I started when the studios were in the basement of the GVSU Fieldhouse, just before WGVU went big time, and moved to the Meijer Public Broadcast Center.”
Ron’s “Dr Jazz” show was unique in that it presented the traditional jazz music of yesteryear performed by the current bands of today. His love for traditional jazz began when he was in High School. “I listened to WWO out of New Orleans on AM radio late at night, with its good traditional jazz.”
Years later Ron became a jazz musician himself. “A friend of mine had started a Dixieland band and he had everything but a banjo player. I was 40 years old at the time and I decided to take up the tenor banjo. Everything kind of grew from that, especially my love of the music. And then I thought, maybe I can get other people to love this music, so I’ve been trying ever since.”
Ron has been both a financial supporter of WGVU and a volunteer who created an hour of unique radio programming every week for 24 years.
“Over the years WGVU has gotten consistently better. WGVU has progressed, always getting new programming, and keeping on top of things,” says Ron.
WGVU thanks Ron Barkel for his creative service on 88.5 and 95.3 FM.