Jon Town worked in radio for 51 years, the last 20 at the KBAQ in Phoenix. When someone who has been doing their job for decades ends up hanging up, two questions spring to mind.
Why did you stay so long? And why did you leave?
“I locked myself at the door,” Town joked.
In fact, Town, who hosted the weekdays âClassical Happy Hourâ on KBACH, as the station is known, had been planning his retirement for some time. This is something he discussed with Marty Manning, a longtime voice on KEZ 99.9 radio, who retired in 2019.
“We’re going back a long way,” Town said. âHe and I talked about it years ago, about ‘When are you going to retire?’ He said, âWell, I have a plan and here it is,â and he held on to it and walked away. I did the same. At that point, I wanted to be retired and just decided to do it.
Why Jon Town left KBACH
Town left the station on November 30. He will spend more time with his wife Lynn, he said, and devote more time to hobbies like welding, photography and Formula 1 racing.
âThe knowledge of classical music and Jon’s calming presence has for many years been an essential part of bringing KBACH listeners home,â Matt Rogers, the station’s program director, said in a statement. âJon will be missed by both listeners and colleagues. We wish him the best of retirement.
Greg Kostraba now hosts “Classical Happy Hour”.
It was a good race – and unlikely in some ways.
âIt was a complete path for me,â Town said. âI did pop, country, whatever you want. And when I had the chance to do that, I thought okay, I know classical music a bit, but not a lot. And my friend Sterling Beeaff said, âWe’re looking for someone to work part-time, would you be interested? “
It was. So began the learning curve.
âYou have to learn something new every day,â Town said. âWhen you walk in and you’re like, ‘Actually, I have no idea what I’m talking about,’ I guess I’d better understand that. It turned out to be incredibly interesting. These years have passed in haste.
How the pandemic changed being a classic radio DJ
Beeaff retired earlier in 2021. Town then stuck with his own plans, which the COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated.
“It was part of it,” he said. âThe pandemic has certainly thrown a wrench in it. “
Until a recent visit to the KBACH offices, Town had not been there for almost a year and a half, he said. For people who communicate for a living, this kind of isolation can be difficult.
âI really like being at the radio station, seeing other people at the station,â he said. âBeing in a closet for a few hours to record a show was more difficult than it seems. It’s like, ‘OK, I’m sitting here staring at the walls.’ “
It wasn’t like that when he was in the KBACH studio.
âBefore, between pieces of music, I would walk around, ‘Hi, how are you’, blah blah blah,” he said. “Plus, you could see out the studio window and see what was going on.”
The transition has weighed on him, Town said.
âThe dynamics are completely different,â he said. âYou can try to kid yourself, you don’t, but we’re in the kind of business where we sort of thrive on interacting with people. “
Classical music is such a specific genre that its appeal is often very concentrated. But Town said he believes the pandemic may have drawn more people into classical music.
âYou have to have a taste for it,â Town said. âAlthough I will say this – when the pandemic hit, people were listening longer all the time. It relaxed them.
He was happy to provide this service.
âI talk to listeners who were like, ‘I never liked classical music, but I love it now because of it. And I use it that way, but not all the time, âhe said. “So we were there for them, whenever they needed a dose.”
How broadcasting has changed since Town debuted
Town began working at Phoenix Radio in 1982. Before coming to Arizona, he worked everywhere, including Tulsa, Denver, Dallas, and San Antonio.
The profession has changed over the years.
âProbably the biggest difference is that I started playing vinyl, then four-track cassette carts, CDs and finally digital,â Town said. âI was editing by cutting with a razor blade and splicing with duct tape. “
Odds pressure has always been a reality, but it’s more concentrated now, he said. The fragmentation of all media has also resulted in greater competition. âSo the pressure is on you all the time,â he said.
No more. He leaves with many years, but few regrets.
“I really like it.”
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