Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Mama Jazz Show

Phyllis Campbell was known to WMUB listeners as Mama Jazz and after almost 30 years behind the mic she was a raspy, gravel-voiced Cincinnati-area institution. She only stepped down in 2006 because if her declining health. She had developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The same vice which led to her marvelous voice also led to the end of her life. Colin Fogarty of Oregon Public Broadcasting, then working nights at WMUB, recalled that smoking was allowed inside the building into the 1990s. [SOURCE] Her voice was compelling but still second to her love of jazz.

Campbell was born in 1922 in Eaton, OH. As a young lady fixated on jazz, she took the train to Cleveland and Chicago in the early 1940s to see artists like Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton and other jazz legends.  More here.

Campbell began working at Miami University, in Oxford, OH  in 1967 first as a secretary. Then jazz-head and WMUB staffer Lee Hay [LINK] asked Campbell to speak at a station fund-raiser about jazz. (Lee Hay is a legend in Ohio herself) Campbell spoke of all the musicians she had met and her love of jazz. This moment led to an invite to do a regular weekend two-hour program on WMUB starting in 1979. That show grew into a four-hour, weekday show by 1984. More here.

In December 2006 at the age of 85 she stopped doing original broadcasts due to her health. She was so beloved they ran re-runs into 2008 when they dropped the canned show for news and talk programs. The station itself only lasted about a year longer. [SOURCE]