General News

Radio show has kept people connected during the pandemic

December 8, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Pavilons

We take listening to the radio for granted.
But in the past couple of years, it has become a lifeline of sorts to many people.
King’s Ronnie Littlejohn hosts “The Gumbo Kitchen” Friday nights on JAZZ.FM91. And listeners have reached out in record numbers during the pandemic.
Littlejohn recalls vividly receiving an email from a listener about two years ago; a guy who was on a cruise ship docked in Port of Yokohama. He told Ronnie he was stuck on the ship in Japan after an outbreak of something called the Coronavirus.
“This was the first time I’d heard those words. He would email me during my show saying he was streaming the show in his tiny cabin and could I play some Louis Armstrong for him.”
Littlejohn noted that in the past couple years, the folks who listen to both his show and the station have been looking for escapism.
“I can tell you that before the pandemic I would get a good bunch of emails during every show. During the pandemic the connection was undeniable. My emails went through the roof. All the hosts at JAZZ.FM91 will say the same thing. People were thanking the station and the show hosts for keeping them sane. And it went both ways. There were some bleak, grey days when doing my show was one of the only things getting me out of bed. So the listeners kept me going as well. Now you talk about a connection!”
Littlejohn said with all the choices – podcasts and streaming services – listeners have a lot of options. However, these streaming services just don’t have the content. What’s also important are the stories behind the music and the personalities behind the microphone.
“And there are some colourful personalities at this station! There is usually a very cool story behind songs and folks love to hear about them. That’s what I try to do. Tell folks the stories behind the music. Folks lean in when you do that. People also love to know there is a beating heart on the other end,” he explained.
Littlejohn said when he started his show, he wanted to take people on a musical journey down to New Orleans every Friday night.
“I know a good deal about the music from the south, but in the three short years I’ve been at it, I have been introduced to a ridiculous amount of music I otherwise may never have heard,” he said.
The mantra at JAZZ.FM91 is “Discover Music” but that doesn’t just go for the listeners. The hosts are discovering as well. It’s a musical journey together.
Littlejohn noted the reception has been overwhelming.
“I get letters every week from all over the world in all different time zones. Some folks are unwinding on a Friday night after a long week while someone else is listening half-way across the world on what is their Saturday morning.
“People enjoy that it is not just one style of music. It’s a ‘gumbo’ of all different things.
“New Orleans jazz, old southern rhythm and blues, Zydeco, Gospel. I like to call it radio with a side of hot sauce.”
Littlejohn is made for it, and his perch behind the mic.
He said he had a pretend radio station in his bedroom when he was a kid. There, he spent hundreds of hours in there recording commercials, promos, and top 30 countdowns.
“Somehow, I’ve managed to turn that dream into a reality. I’m having a blast.”
Littlejohn urges all listeners to support live music.
“Stay off the streaming services and go to Bandcamp or your local record store or buy music directly from the artists. They need it now more than ever.”
Littlejohn offers “Mardi Gras” every Friday night from 9 until 1 a.m. without having to buy a plane ticket to New Orleans.



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