Stay-at-home orders have left Bourbon Street mostly empty of crowds. But New Orleans is a city where the music never really stops. So when the annual Jazz Fest was called off because of COVID-19, into the void stepped the volunteer-driven public radio station WWOZ (90.7). It created Jazz Festing in Place, the on-air and online replacement that attracted more than 20 times the station’s typical daily audience size.
Jazz Festing in Place aired on WWOZ during the dates and times that Jazz Fest would have taken place this year – April 23 through 26 and April 30 to May 3, from 11am to 7pm CT. In addition to the live radio broadcast, the station streamed the event live over StreamGuys’ global content delivery network to reach jazz aficionados worldwide.
The eight-day broadcast featured archival recordings of Jazz Fest greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair, Dr. John, and Irma Thomas.
When WWOZ, an independent public radio station, found themselves facing an unexpected surge in demand, StreamGuys stepped in to ensure the unprecedented interest was successfully met throughout the duration of the event. “Overall, they increased our capacity tenfold, enough to handle 50,000 concurrent streams,” said WWOZ New Media Director David Stafford. “Without that, many disappointed listeners would not have been able to access our stream, and the event would not have been nearly as successful as it was.”
“We were delighted to play a vital role in the delivery of this first-ever, historic radio event, which featured so many priceless moments from the famed Jazz Fest’s history,” said Tim Labelle, Global Account Manager at StreamGuys.
Jazz Fest Gets A Podcast Too
WWOZ isn’t the only media outlet that is working to fill the Jazz Fest void. Osiris Media will release the first episodes of its new podcast called Festival Circuit on July 9 even though the event was scrapped. The five-episode series will focus on the music and culture of New Orleans, and its annual jazz festival. It will also examine the city’s unique traditions, community, and cuisine in addition to the music.
“There isn’t a city in the world that’s more defined by music than New Orleans,” said RJ Bee, CEO of Osiris Media. “We feel that it’s important to release this series even though the 2020 festival is canceled, to pay tribute to the artists, the music and the culture of the city. If you’re a fan of New Orleans music, and the distinctive, inspiring and exhilarating nature of the city, you’ll love this series.”
Season one of Festival Circuit features interviews with musicians Ivan Neville, George Porter Jr., Anders Osborne, Papa Mali, Ben Jaffe, Terence Higgins and others. Also included are interviews with Keith Spera of The Times-Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate, Superfly co-founder Rick Farman, journalist Geraldine Wyckoff, author Jay Mazza, and Holly Hobbs, an ethnomusicologist based in New Orleans.
The Festival Circuit podcast was inspired by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival but is not officially associated with the event.