Dick Conte: 'God Yes, It's Been Gratifying!'

KCSM FM's Dick Conte reflects on 40 years in jazz broadcasting

In 1962, Pat Henry put Dick Conte on KJAZ and sparked what would become an illustrious career in jazz radio.

Arriving in San Francisco in 1961 from Connecticut, he graced the region with his broadcasts and straight ahead jazz piano. He came at a time when the Bay Area had two jazz stations: KJAZ and KHIP, a short-lived radio station partnership spearheaded by Ralph Gleason and Jimmy Lyons.

"KJAZ was the better of the two and I became a fan," recalls Conte. Calling the station one day, he asked how he could get involved and soon had a couple of shifts a week as a volunteer. In 1969, Conte was hired as the full-time morning host for $100 a week. In the 1970s, he landed his longtime Mid-Day Jazz spot on KJAZ.

"The Monterey Jazz Festival broadcasts with KJAZ and KCSM are probably my most memorable moments. I co-hosted those for quite a few years and it was always a treat to have people like Dizzy (Gillespie) in the booth. The booth was right above the stage and artists climbed up the stairs after their performances and we'd talk to them live."

The ownership transition of KJAZ took Conte through several changes, leading to KCSM and KKSF in 1987. At KCSM, he helped the college station make the transition to an all-jazz format.

"I consider myself very fortunate to have worked in jazz radio for 40 years. I've interviewed thousands of artists like Bill Evans, Freddie Hubbard, Milt Jackson and countless others. They became friends I got to know them so well. God yes, it's been gratifying."

Conte has also released a new quartet album titled Live at the 2001 San Jose Jazz Festival, featuring saxophonist Steve Heckman, broadcast and recorded by KCSM. For more information, e-mail Dick Conte at dcjazz@vom.com.

Dick Conte's weekly radio show can be heard on KCSM 91.1 FM, Saturday afternoons from 2 to 6 p.m.