Jim Clark Leaves Jazz Nightly; South Dakota Radio Desert Even Drier

Leaving town: Jim Clark, host of Jazz Nightly on South Dakota Public Radio:

On Thursday, August 8th Jim Clark (“Uncle Jimmo”) submitted his resignation as host of Jazz Nightly, effective immediately. We were surprised by this decision, but we respect his choice and wish him the best in the future.

SDPB’s decades-long commitment to Jazz music will continue. We know you are steady listeners of Jazz Nightly. We thank you for your support and hope you’ll stick around for the next chapter [South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Jazz Nightly Facebook post, 2015.08.10].

Jim Clark, South Dakota Public Radio jazz man, 2001–2015.
Jim Clark, South Dakota Public Radio jazz man, 2001–2015.

Clark had spun disks for South Dakota since 2001, with a nine-month Daugaard-induced hiatus in 2011 and 2012. Following that 2011 budget/culture cut, SDPB managed to raise Clark’s pay from $15.93 an hour to the closing wage listed on Open.SD.gov, $18.12 an hour… which, if we assume full time running the boards and other tasks at the Vermillion office, sums to four thousand dollars less than the average teacher salary in South Dakota. (But you know, hosting Jazz Nightly could be the perfect moonlighting job for a Lower Missouri Valley music teacher trying to pay the mortgage!)

I expressed my appreciation for the value Clark added to public broadcasting in South Dakota when Governor Daugaard’s miserliness forced him out in 2011. Jim Clark epitomized South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s highest purpose: to bring South Dakotans programming unlike anything found in the vast desert of commercial radio. Market-groomed country twangers are our audio cactus; preachers and praise bands, our scaly lizards; oldies rock and whiny teen pop, our mirages. Jazz Nightly, World Café, American Routes—those programs make South Dakota Public Radio our oasis.


32 Responses to Jim Clark Leaves Jazz Nightly; South Dakota Radio Desert Even Drier

  1. larry kurtz

    Minnesota Public Radio is facing cuts, too. Thank goddess for streaming.

  2. dang, hate to hear this.

  3. Nick Nemec

    I was never a jazz fan but Uncle Jimmo and his great personality introduced me, and I’m sure many other farmers, to jazz as we worked into the evening on our tractors and combines. I’ll miss him. Let us know where he lands.

  4. Nick, there’s something significant about Jim Clark. He brought personality to the airwaves. Sometimes it sounds like SDPB tries to beat the personality out of their on-air voices. Listen to the scripted weather reports, never deviating from the prescribed pattern. Gary Ellenbolt works some personality into his morning chatter. We need more of such voices on the radio, folks who let us know we’re hearing from a real live person in Vermillion.

  5. I will miss “uncle jimmo’s” bs and jazz. SDPB-radio is about the only radio we ever listen to. The current fads of slurred drunken-sounding slobbering on commercial TV and radio passing as music is nearly unbearable and almost always dreadful trash.

    The discordant noise on TV is only understandable with captioning on and then it is almost always seen to be garbage. CBS Morning keeps claiming more real news, but that is almost always followed by celebrity trash and apparently music by groups avoiding any harmony or sense but part of some element of companies associated with CBS. Back too many years ago, it was actually 30 minutes or an hour (depending on year) of solid actual news.

    I don’t think public radio and TV has any rational reason for emulating commercial trash in news or music.

  6. Nick Nemec

    I’ve always thought that if SDPB had been on the ball they would have syndicated Uncle Jimmo’s show to other public radio stations around the country. I’ll bet they could have easily paid his salary and other costs associated with syndication and picked up a little extra money for SDPB. Oh well, maybe that’s thinking too big, this is South Dakota after all.

  7. Ben Cerwinske

    Uncle Jimmo meant a lot to me too. When I ditched TV, Jazz Nightly is what I started listening to. My knowledge and appreciation for jazz increased exponentially. I’ve since started sharing jazz with the kids I work with. We’ll miss ya Jimmo!

  8. Nick,

    A very very long time ago, i was on the board of SDPB. At least then, there was a “convention” (can’t remember what it was called where all the state’s took their tapes to be reviewed by other states for exchanging programming. Except for historical documentaries, there was actually little interest in most other genres as they competed with similar programming but lacked a local flavor. Three things I recall:

    1) Whether they be this type of genre or another, most exchanges of programming was for barter vs. cash. For instance, if SDPB gave programming to another, SDPB got credit for something similar. If I remember right, we didn’t have actually take programming from who took ours but could take another affiliates and they then got credit for another program.

    2) A lot of programming we took from other affiliates (other than documentaries) was to test a particular genre on whether or not we wanted to produce a similar program in a time slot not filled by national programming. Again if I remember right, a lot of testing was done right before telethons because they could then do two things: Ask if you liked it and give money if you want us to put it on the air.

    3) Finally, I remember one radio disaster. When someone was out for an extended time (two weeks is in my head), SDPB substituted a similar program from another station and the complaints went through the roof. Listeners wanted instead encores of the program with the host they liked.

  9. larry kurtz

    Uncle Jimmo made my ass tired.

    The only show i listen to anymore on Bill Janklow’s idea of public radio is Dakota Midday and i keep my finger on the button to mute Gary Ellenbolt’s voice.

  10. Bill Fleming

    Kurtz, that’s because you, my friend, are a Philistene. ;-)

  11. larry kurtz

    well, there’s that, bill.

  12. larry kurtz

    things returning to normal in the hills after the rally?

  13. yes, quality has suffered as republicans found yet another pot of funding to squeeze the life blood from. commercials destroy the cultural/educational experience.

    some years ago commercial radio consolidated so all country music across the nation, all pop ect was owned and produced by just a few slick corporate radio stations. the heart took a hit. the “newest” genera-americana is now making its mark. urban, supposedly music, is kanye west’s road to riches.

    jimmo provided a valuable service for the love of it, like teachers, which is a business model which takes advantage of the employee’s kindness.

    less vibes would have suited me, be i will be saddened by his leaving.

    i am impressed with young people filling the void w/ new ideas. for example: SDP

  14. larry-incredible silence. trip to sheridan lake last night. no comparison.

    fleming is funny. lynn, take note. :)

  15. mike from iowa

    PBS,in general,went south when dumbass dubya reorganized the supposed liberal bent with a bunch of clueless wingnuts. PBS prolly gave all their tax payer monies to the koch bros.

  16. mikeyc, that's me!

    Larry-
    Much quieter now.
    Still tallying the fatalities.
    Still bodies that haven’t been discovered yet in the ditches. Homeless shelters trying to help the human trafficking victims. Outlaw gang just arrived in Sturgis. Courts are full of defendants. The flies have arrived too. What a fun time!

  17. This wasn’t funding cuts. Jimmo just up and quit after Thursday night’s show. He didn’t even give them a two week notice. Kind of left them high and dry. I don’t know what kind of bee he got in his bonnet but I doubt he’ll be finding work as a DJ again. I loved his show but walking out the way he did is very unprofessional.

  18. Deb Geelsdottir

    Awww, I really liked Uncle Jimmo. I urged him to play more blues and it seemed to me that he did. He also clued me into the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for Dixieland jazz. Awesome.

  19. Love World music … ⭐️??⭐️

  20. Mike from Iowa, as Stephen Colbert stated, “Reality has a well known liberal bias.” Thus the killing and altering of PBS type broadcasting. Truly, in the US we need something apart from corporate owned and funded news and media.

    I agree, Uncle Jimmo should have been syndicated, just like Fiona Richie and the Thistle and Shamrock show. I am going to miss him.

  21. Jimmo I am very saddened about your sudden absence . I live in Orlando , Florida and listened to your show every night that you were on Your knowledge of jazz can never be replaced by just anyone you’re a legend . Please let all of your listeners know where we can tune into your hopefully new station same spectacular show. We all Love You . And I no longer listen to SDPB.

  22. well said, aberration of the horned four legged bunny

    such a strange handle. obviously afraid to reveal true species

  23. jd fiedler

    the permanent departure of jim clark is a tragedy. i became good friends, thru many email exchanges, with jim over the years. he was/is a brilliant jazz musicologist. i am among the few who know what he did, and why. it can become quite difficult to do your job when you are not appreciated by those in higher places.
    resp., jd fiedler, leader and lead guitarist with Les Singes Volants (south dakota’s premier gypsy jazz quartet) and the JD Fiedler Trio (mainstream jazz).

  24. Darlene, JD, thanks for those notes. JD, Jim actually answered your emails? I didn’t think he would touch the Internet.

  25. Bill Fleming

    Cool. JD weighs in. Very cool. Thanks man. Long time.
    (p.s. when he says he’s “among the few” he ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie. JD’s a world-class picker.)

  26. I am so bummed!!! I live in Minneapolis, and stream Jazz Nightly almost every night. MPR does not offer anything like Jazz nightly. It’s the reason I subscribe. I hope Jazz Nightly does not get discontinued, do not know if I would continue my membership. Will miss you doting and devoted Uncle Jimmo!!

  27. call me roy

    South Dakota will eventually realize what a mistake it is to have lost Uncle Jimmo. His jazz show was unique and he was a great musicologist in the jazz genre.

    SDPB made a terrible mistake by not syndicating his show. They would have ended up with money in their coffers and the listeners would be listening to magic 5 nights a week.

    Good luck Jimmo, you had a great run here.

  28. Thanks ‘call me roy’! Ironically, I read your post while the underpaid employees of SD Public Broadcasting stopped “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” to beg for more donations. Using pitches like “it’s your opportunity to pay it forward,” it calls to mind this second disappearance of Uncle Jimmo whose value is well expressed here. It also brings to mind how Republican legislators over the last 20 years have thrashed the reputation and importance of Public Broadcasting as their dirty little excuse to keep SDPB on a starvation diet.

    So, if these dullards keep dumping the load on contributors, why should contributors enable their dullardness?

    My public broadcasting dollars go to Minnesota Public Radio which has a rich culture of great radio production and public service. South Dakota keeps sending dumbdumbs to Pierre to under fund education, colleges and public broadcasting. I refuse to be part of helping their agenda any longer. The last straw was dumping the one valuable program that SDPB produced. It was a stupid choice, and I can’t be part of bankrolling stupid.

  29. regardless, republicans are having their way w/ SDPB-diluted or gone!

  30. 96, I hate to ask, but would the same thinking lead you to withdrawing support from the SDDP?

    Is Statehouse coverage with bringing a few of your dollars back to SDPB?

    As Leslie suggests, does 96’s thinking end up giving the GOP the victory they want, stifling public broadcasting in South Dakota? Or do we need to create such a swell of support for Minnesota Public Radio that they would establish a separate broadcast channel of their own for South Dakota news?

  31. SDDP has never interrupted “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” “Car Talk” or “Prairie Home Companion” with heartfelt pleas for money or offers of fabulous prizes like coffee mugs and gym bags before, so I haven’t cut them off! :-)

    Statehouse coverage is nowhere near as comprehensive or as newsworthy as it used to be. It comes off as an infomercial for the governor’s office and the majority leadership. I remember when it had real news reporters on radio and tv. The leash got slapped on SDPB while Rounds was in office, whether it was self-induced or not doesn’t matter. When was the last time you remember breaking news or important details coming from SDPB that wasn’t on other news media or blogs?

    Back to the point, I don’t find SDPB worthy of my contribution until major changes are made. MPR is a far better service which I can listen to up and down I-29 and when I go into Minnesota. NPR is also a worthwhile investment. I am truly sad to refuse investing in SDPB, but as long as worthwhile programs like Uncle Jimmo’s are removed because the legislature is filled with deadbeats who won’t fund programming, I won’t participate in a farce.

  32. business model-no ads, taxpayers pay for well informed listeners over public air waves. ads ( with amped up volume), why pay too? cable sold variety, so you had to pay and listen to ads. its not just reporters and newspapers and teachers that can’t get paid. musicians, except for tyler swift, the little guy, and kanye west, are expected to provide free product too, this has been going on for decades.