By Salwa Khan
From FM Dreams to Wimberley's Jazz Virtuoso - A Journey in Sound with Bruce Cloud
I'm speaking today with Bruce Cloud and his show is the Jazz Connection, which is on Sundays eight to 10:00 PM on KWVH. How did you first become interested in radio?
I worked in radio in San Antonio during the 1970s at kind of the blossoming of FM radio. I just thought that was the coolest thing. So I started putting a couple record players in my bedroom and playing record back to back, and then studying a little bit of radio, television and film, and got my second degree engineer license. And then I went out into Texas and tried to find a job with long hair in West Texas or South Texas. Didn't work but I kept on trying. And so eventually during the seventies, I worked in San Antonio on almost every format type that was there. I was very grateful for having that exposure. In the seventies, the lifestyle was a little different. If you were involved in any kind of the long-haired culture. I wasn't ever qualified as a hippie because I took a shower and washed my hair every day.
But <laugh> I got an overnight job in San Antonio on a station that played middle of the road music. Then I got a, uh, early morning slot on KTFM. What I was trying to say is that the lifestyle caught up with me and I let it get in the way of what I was doing. I decided to stop it and went into another career. I was a Caterpillar tractor salesman here in Austin for 16 years. And I guess I get restless because I keep on wanting to do more in my life.
After working for other people, I finally retired. And one day I was coming out of the Wimberley Cafe and there was Susan Raybuck and DuAnne Redus on a little card table asking if anybody would be interested in helping promote a radio station in Wimberley. I'd love to do that. I kind of helped put a radio station on for Trinity University in the mid seventies, and it's still thriving, and we played a lot of jazz. And my mom side of the family from Kansas City, I kind of grew up with jazz. She has all these old 78s, which I still have. San Antonio, I grew up in also, and that was pretty much country western.
So I have a background, a country western, classical, and jazz. And so I try to put all the kinds of different music together. But when it comes to the Jazz Connection, the station has given me a little bit more liberty so that I can really put those songs together and have a flow of, of music. And I get to say goodnight to everybody in Wimberley on Sundays. But I'm really blessed by having the opportunity to do what I want, and that's to put good music together for people who like to enjoy it.
Do you have a particular process when you're putting your show together?
I like to start off the show at the top of the hour with a recognizable, or at least an upbeat tune for people to hang, to catch onto. Then I break and introduce the show and myself, and then I go into three songs. One might be a recognizable song. The other one might be a song that actually flows from the end of the first song into the second song, either by the rhythm of the notes, the sound of the voices, just basically I want that song and the new song to come together without anybody knowing it.
Then we're to give an ID for the station or the show almost every 12 minutes, just to give the listener an idea of what they're listening to. All I have to do is say, you're listening to Wimberley Valley Radio and the Jazz Connection and go onto the next song.
I do play an extended version of a good, long song and you would never be able to hear those songs on a normal radio station because they're too long. I'm not saying 20 minutes, but I will say anything under 12. And it's great because there's a lot of jazz players and, and performers who have elongated songs. So I'm really tickled that the station lets me do that. We're all pretty blessed by being able to have this kind of medium to express our creativeness.
I don't write the script until right before the song, or right after the song. Because I'm not sure what song is next when I play the previous one. I let it come to me and I kind of hope that I'm being channeled by a lot of the people that know a lot more about jazz than me. And really, it's kind of cool. I hope at least that people will dig it.
Are you doing your show from your home or in the studio?
I'd love to do it in the studio, but I have a hard time scheduling things like that. So I've kind of set up a quasi little thing here on my desk where I have a microphone and the computer. I was fortunate and the station was fortunate when we started, someone designated a music library, and so I got a copy of that music library, at least the jazz side. It was about 3000 titles with all the old big band and early jazz players classics.
Are there any challenges in doing the show and what are some rewards?
Well, the challenge is wanting to be able to do it fresh every week. I kind of think about a show as an album or a concert, and you start and you work through the song list, and you have a show by the time it's over with. And so that's, that's kind of how I think about it. Generally if someone goes to a concert or buys an album, they want to hear it more than once. So after a month or more, I might replay a show to fill in what I haven't newly produced.
It's been a long time, a lot of shows and great music, and I've, I've really enjoyed meeting everybody else on the station and working with them too. I think Tim (Kiesling) is doing a great job and just happy to be involved in it because it's becoming one of the foremost premier community sponsored stations, I think, in the country.