Locally produced jazz show to join NY station lineup

Published 3:37 pm Thursday, August 2, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

A syndicated radio program created by Mike Schiermann of Clanton will soon be heard on a station based in an unexpected place — New York.

The station, 920 WON: The Apple, is an “old time radio streaming web radio station. We stream scheduled old time radio shows and classic radio drama,” according to the station’s Facebook page.

Schiermann’s show plays jazz music from the Big Band era.

“They saw us promoting the show on Facebook and tuned into the show, listened to the show and decided it was a good fit,” Schiermann said.

He said the station plays a variety of nostalgic music.

When he was first contacted, Schiermann said he was surprised but “thrilled.”

“I am passionate about Big Band Music. I think that it’s important for music students, particularly band students, … to hear this music. I think it’s important for them to understand how this music works, because big band music, Swing music is elemental,” Schiermann said.

He said a number of music theories are incorporated into the music “and it’s very, very obvious.”

“These are the building blocks of jazz, and really the building blocks of Western music,” Schiermann said.

The program is actually on three traditional radio stations (Clanton, Birmingham and Montgomery) and one other internet radio station based in Texas.

Schiermann first pitched the idea of the show to LeCroy Career Technical Center’s WSMX 98.3 FM.

After doing the show for a while, Schiermann approached other radio stations in Alabama to see if they were interested in playing the show.

Schiermann records each show in his dining room, surrounded by shelves lined with records of Big Band jazz music and Swing music originally recorded in 1935-1955.

“All this music is for dancing,” Schiermann said.

Popular dances included the jitterbug, foxtrot, two-step, one-step and the waltz.

“Dancing was the big entertainment,” Schiermann said. “If you had a date, you went out dancing … and there were hundreds and hundreds of bands playing all throughout the country.”

Each show is recorded two weeks before it will be aired. The recording is made using digitized versions of the songs from Schiermann’s record collection and equipment hooked up to his computer.

“I don’t play CDs on the radio show unless there is absolutely no other way for me to get my hands on an important recording,” Schiermann said.

His collection includes 78s, LPs and 45s. Some records in his collection date back to the beginning of the era and are 100 years old.

“We have a software that we use to enhance the sound of the 78 records,” Schiermann said. “It takes the pops and clicks and scratches off of them and the surface noise.”

The show is sent to the stations as an MP3.

Schiermann focuses on artists with an Alabama connection.

Originally from Sioux City, Iowa, Schiermann became interested in radio as a student through a Junior Achievement project at the age of 16.

The Junior Achievement project was creating a radio program.

JA students create a company, sell stock, and pay the shareholders from the profits, then liquidate the company.

Schiermann said students pre-recorded the weekly show of them playing records and talking about the songs. They also sold advertising to local companies.

The program manager heard Schiermann on the program and thought he “might have a future in this business.”

“I was a high school junior, and I was working on the weekends playing rock ‘n’ roll records on our hometown AM radio station,” Schiermann said. “I liked it so much, it was really all I wanted to do.”

He had a long career working in Birmingham.

Schiermann’s love of jazz was cultivated by his grandparents.

“They grew up hearing this music, and this was the music of their household,” Schiermann said. “I’m 60 now, so I come from a time where you could turn on the radio and still hear a lot of this music. There is almost none of it on the air anymore.”