John Hunt

John Hunt

BMHOF Class of 2006

John Hunt wrapped himself in the idea that jazz was not just a type of music, but a culture and a way of life. He brought Jazz to the forefront of the music scene in Buffalo.

John was born and raised in Buffalo. He attended college in Ohio. While there, he worked in broadcasting and played in a jazz group called Jive Soup. As a child, he played the trumpet, and was self-taught on the piano. When he returned to Buffalo after college, he seemed to be on a mission to bring back an appreciation of jazz to our area. A quote from his brother, Steve, says, “...as a volunteer in the wee hours of the night, he began playing and promoting jazz and the local jazz artists until he had created such a demand that there had to be a paid job, in prime time, to serve the demand.”

As Music Director at WBFO from 1976 until his death in 1985, the station went from a small university station to a leader in the radio industry with 72 hours weekly of Jazz programming. Shows that he produced were heard all over the country on NPR. His productions of jazz performances and interviews from Buffalo, for National Public Radio, began when he co produced “Downtown Jazz,” a series of live performances from the Statler Hilton Downtown Room, which aired on NPR in 1977 and continued during his time there. John was a gifted interviewer and writer, writing articles for Downbeat, a national jazz magazine, as well as Buffalo Jazz Report, Jazz Gazette and Radio Free Jazz. He did one of the final interviews with Eubie Blake - who was 95 years old at the time. The interview was only supposed to be 5-10 minutes because of Eubie Blake’s poor health, but he willingly ended up talking to John Hunt for over an hour.

Some of his memberships and service activities include: National Radio Chairman of the National Association of Jazz Educators, Board of Directors of The Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio, City of Buffalo Sesquicentennial Committee Field Producer, Field Producer for NPR Jazz Alive & American Jazz Radio Festival Series, Panelist 1978 and 1981 Panelist for the Buffalo State College Jazz Festival and Winner of Outstanding Young Men of America Award.

John died of cancer in 1985 at the young age of 33. He was a dedicated husband and father of two girls.

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