January 24, 2019

Blue Plate Radio


I had been a freelance writer for a number of years and in August 2005 I was contacted by JazzReview.com (https://www.jazzreview.com) to interview Bradley Leighton (https://www.bradleyleighton.com), a jazz flutist from San Diego, California.  I interviewed Leighton and the article was subsequently published online a short time later.  Almost two years later, I discovered that Leighton was opening the 2007 Hartford Jazz Festival (https://www.hartfordjazz.com).  I dropped him a line reminding him of our connection and that I planned to review the concert.  His producer at Pacific Coast Jazz (https://www.pacificcoastjazz.com), his wife Donna Nichols, responded and said that Bradley would be happy to meet me before his sound check.

I got to the Festival early and while I was waiting, I met a photographer, Dave Neto.  He was there to see Joyce Cooling (https://www.joycecooling.com) whom he’d met a few months before and who was performing after Bradley.  Dave agreed to take some photos for my planned concert review.  I finally caught up with Bradley and Donna and introduced Dave.  Dave asked if Donna could get him a little closer to take photos of Joyce during her performance.  Donna left and came back with two backstage passes.

We spent the rest of the night backstage talking to all the performers and taking photos and eating with Bradley, Donna, Evan Marks (https://www.evanmarks.net/) from Fattburger (https://fattburger.com/), Joyce Cooling, Jay Wagner, and more.  The common theme throughout all those conversations with all of those artists was, “there are no outlets and no one is playing our music out here.”  As an entrepreneur, that complaint struck a chord for me.  There was an unfulfilled need.

In the Fall of 2007 I had several talks with Larry Tomascak, the Director at Southern CT State University’s (SCSU) Lyman Auditorium (https://www.southernct.edu/lymancenter/informationseatingchart/).  Larry had been booking acts for the Smooth Jazz Series at Lyman for years.  The more we talked the more Larry bemoaned how little publicity his venue, the artists that he books, and jazz in general gets in New Haven and the surrounding areas.  Larry’s complaint was essentially the same complaint that I heard that summer from everyone at the Hartford Jazz Festival (https://www.hartfordjazz.com).  No one was getting the word out about the music. Again, there was an unfulfilled need.  I decided to do some Googling and here’s what I found:


  • There are no full-time jazz stations in CT
  • Some jazz radio programs exist but they are confined to college or small FM stations and they are scheduled erratically or are relegated to weekly jazz brunches or lunches
  • There are no jazz-specific publications or other written outlets in CT
  • Jazz concert news or announcements were spread across many different sites, none focused on CT

That was my “A-Ha” moment – a chance to start a new business that would fulfill all of these needs AND feed my passion for music – a radio station.  A 24/7 Internet radio station.

In late in 2007, I decided to attend a reception at the White Space Gallery (https://www.whitespacegallery.com) in New Haven. I felt that the attendees were the people that would actually tune in to the station.  I talked to most of the people at the reception and I floated the idea of an Internet radio station focusing on jazz.  The overwhelming response was, “where can I find it?”

By November, I had found the right broadcasting platform – Live365 (https://www.live365.com), signed all the licensing agreements, engaged a graphics and website designer and a programmer.  In December, we had our first versions of the logo and the first initials designs of the website.  They’re now on the Blue Plate Radio Facebook Timeline. Friends helped us choose the final logo from eight different versions.

On January 6, 2008, Blue Plate Radio did its first test broadcast.  I continued testing various elements and facets of the software while the website was being developed.  I reached out to Larry Tomascak who agreed to let me introduce the station before the first show of the Spring 2008 Jazz Series.  On March 29, 2008, at 7:55pm, the Blue Plate Radio website went live. At 8pm, the idea became a reality – I walked out onto the Lyman Center stage and officially introduced Blue Plate Radio.



Ed Tankus

President and General Manager

Blue Plate Radio