John Rogers: Veteran Jazz Cat

Highlights of a Distinguished 40-Year Career in Broadcasting

"My birthday was just yesterday (April 19) and are you ready for this? I'm an octogenarian, eighty years old! I'm not even keeping it a secret anymore," declares John Rogers from his home in San Francisco.

Since his arrival in the Bay Area in the late 1950s, the neighborhood this Mr. Rogers frequents has been one of jazz clubs, record stores and radio stations.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, John joined KJAZ radio in 1962 when the late Pat Henry hired him to replace a departing disc jockey. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he first worked in radio during college. Following three years in the Navy, he went to work at KJPD in Green Bay, Wisconsin after graduation "playing Stan Kenton records in the heart of polka country."

Bitten by the big band bug, he saw Lu Watters & The Yerba Buena Jazz Band at the Dawn Club Navy while docked in San Francisco and leaned toward traditional jazz. It wasn't until he opened his first record store, "Disc & Needle" (1950-55), that he heard Charlie Parker. "It confused me, just like it did everybody else, but when I heard Woody Herman playing modern bebop stuff, like 'Apple Honey,' I got into it."

Retail was trying, but John found he was a good salesman so he took a job with Eric Distribution in San Francisco. It opened doors that led to London Records where he promoted Rolling Stones albums in the US. He and his wife Florence, a legal secretary and replanted New Yorker, have been married for more than 35 years. With KJAZ, he continued to grow and created the popular program "Great American Songwriters", which aired on Sunday mornings.

John is now at KCSM Jazz 91 where his Saturday night show (airing 9pm to midnight) has allowed his expertise and passion for jazz to pour out over the last 13 years. As head of jazz radio promotion for Fantasy Records, John has also been an unsung advocate for jazz and radio. "I had a dream as a kid in high school of doing radio programs. It was a dream that I never thought would happen but lo and behold, it did."