The loss of jazz programming is usually the focus when discussions about the future of WBEZ crop up, but that genre isn’t the only victim of upcoming schedule changes. Disappearing from the station come January is Blues Before Sunrise, a wonderful long-running show hosted by Steve Cushing that offers one of the most comprehensive, intelligent, educational, and entertaining surveys of black music prior to World War II; it covers classic blues, country blues, black gospel, early black vocal combos, jump blues, early electric blues, and other great stuff that falls in between the cracks. Luckily, WDCB (90.9), the radio station of the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, has stepped up to give the invaluable program a new home at the same exact time slot, Saturday nights from midnight to 5 AM.
Although Cushing is a veritable Chicago institution, his program has been nationally syndicated for years, and it’s currently heard on 75 different stations. For the last decade or so Cushing was forced to pony up the cash to make the program available to NPR subscriber stations via a satellite uplink—to the tune of about $900 a month. Cushing usually managed to scrape together enough sponsorship to keep the service going, but he says he was thinking about pulling the plug when an Internet-based solution saved the day. For the last year or so Cushing has made the program available to stations via an FTP site where stations simply download the five one-hour segments, costing him just a tenth of what the uplink service set him back.
Blues Before Sunrise will launch on WDCB on January 7.