Eric Alan Wannenburg (10 Dec 1951 – 28 June 2022) was a music institution in his own right, and promoter of radio jazz in South Africa and globally for some fifty years. A resident of Cape Town, he passed away peacefully this week after a debilitating illness. He leaves a legacy of profound supports, passion, and unadulterated love for professional radio broadcasting focusing on jazz, blues, Latin & World jazz of South Africa and the Global Village.
Eric was a founding member of the Cape Town-based community radio Fine Music Radio (FMR – 101.3FM) which went live in July 1995, and worked as the Program Manager responsible for jazz programming amidst a predominately classic music oriented station. Eric was also responsible for training new jazz presenters for this new community station, and in 1993, mentored a young FMR Duty Producer, Granville Skippers, who later joined All Jazz Radio as a weekly presenter.
During his tenure, Richard Arends served as Chair of FMR’s Board of Directors, and Rashid Lombard was Station Manager. In March 2005, Eric left FMR in to join Radio 2000, a national public broadcast station with the SABC PBS portfolio, where he produced and presented his popular ‘Jazz Rendezvous’ series of weekly three-hour sessions which included live interviews with local and overseas jazz musicians and professionals intermixed with airplay of leading albums, chats about good foods, wines, and all good things that accompany the world of improvised music, blues, Latin, and world jazz.
In 2012, Eric saw the need for a wider exposure and listenership of the growing jazz genre, both within South Africa and globally. Thus, his home radio studio birthed All Jazz Radio as an Internet Radio station which streams 24/7 jazz ‘live on the Net’ on www.alljazzradio.co.za. He left Radio 2000 in 2013, subsequently, to pursue this lifelong dream.
Each program is streamed live during the day, and repeated twice during the week in the evenings in-between the playlist streaming. The broadcasts can also be streamed from various mobile apps, like TuneIn and Radio South Africa.
As the founder, program and music Manager, and compiler for All Jazz Radio, Eric brought on board several local and international jazz radio presenters over the years. Of the Capetownians, Granville Skippers presented his The Mother City Mix, welcomed old and new South African and other jazz works, and has continued to assist with technical matters in radio programming. Guitarist James Kibby presents his weekly The Kibby Factor with James “Acid Robot” Kibby, a blend of futuristic jazz, blues, and electronic music. Clifford Graham, an old colleague, had presented his Take 5 & Then Some, a mix of mainstream, nostalgic, vocal and pop jazz with a smattering of news about theatre, music, and reviews. Brian Currin focused on South African blues and rock in his The Vagabond Show.
The Global Village of radio presenters included Wolfgang König, based in Berlin, who produces and presents Jazz Around The World, focusing on the European jazz scene. Besides broadcasting, he writes, attends jazz festivals, and has been a frequent visitor to Cape Town’s International Jazz Festival. Other presenters include:
Modern Jazz Today with Jeff Williams & Kari Gaffney (USA)
Todd’s Turntable with Todd Gordon (UK)
Smooth Jazz Weekend with Tina E Clarke (USA)
The Groove Merchant with Andy Hardy (NZ)
Eric presented his The Jazz Rendezvous Radio Pinotage, Coffee, Sarmie (Sandwich) & Stockvel Show, which included ‘In Conversation with’ … a leading artist. His ‘The Klutz In The Kitchen’ segment presented zany and sometimes irreverent chats with Chefs and restaurateurs about recipes, artisanal wines, liquors, and beers, and how to lick your fat fingers delicately. Wingerd Griep en Ander Stories (Vineyard Flu and Other Stories which is also known as The Wrath of the Grape) debunked many of the myths of enjoying and drinking wine, spirits and beer with a special focus on artisanal products. Before his professional broadcasting days began, Eric had been a club DJ and chef/restaurant owner with a penchant for South Africa’s finest Pinotage. Since he collected recipe books, he added books and albums about jazz, blues, Latin and world jazz to his cluttered shelves.
Eric made sure the written word about the world of jazz was accessible and informative to avid listeners and readers. The All Jazz Radio website contains a section for this, including his ‘Blog Supreme’ with quirky chats, reviews, and comments about the food-wine-jazz world of quality cuisine supported by quality live jazz. Other writers like Carol M. Martin web-edits, writes reviews on live events, interviews and writes about musicians and their albums. Her writings are found under ‘Carol’s Musings’.
Sadly his shows drained his time away; his energies had to be diverted to the necessary tasks of organising and cataloguing all incoming albums he received from all over the world, daily.
Thanks to contributions from the volunteer contributors named above and to Eric’s passion and leadership, All Jazz Radio has received its various awards and acknowledgements since inception:
• AJR was the proud winner of the Mzantsi (South African) Jazz Award for the Best Radio Station Playing Jazz 2018/9
• AJR received the Certificate of Acknowledgement of Participation and Appreciation on the 94th Birthday of President Nelson Mandela 2000 Voices Birthday Wish Recording 2012
• Eric was the Recipient of the Radio 2000 Staff Excellence Award – Weekend Presenter of the Year 2010/11
• Eric served as Master of Ceremonies on the Rosies Stage at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and as media conference host from inception of the Festival event, from 2000 – 2018.
Eric leaves behind a host of colleagues and close friends. His wishes are that the AJR Radio station continue to promote its mission. Friends can join the various media platforms, such as TuneIn and Radio South Africa apps, on Facebook pages: www.facebook.com/AllJazzRadio and https://www.facebook.com/AllJazzRadioCapeTownSouthAfrica
The Twitter handle: @AllJazzRadioSA
The website at http://www.alljazzradio.co.za