BILL GARTS, WQLN Radio Jazz Host
Dies Sunday, Sept. 3
William L Garts, "Bill Garts" to WQLN Radio listeners, died on Sunday, Sept.3 at Meadville Medical Center. He was 85.
Garts hosted the radio show "Saturday Swing Session" for nearly 30 years. His radio career began in the early 1980's, when he sat in from time to time with then radio jazz host John Chicona. In July of 1985, he made an audition tape at the behest of station manager Tom McLaren, and was scheduled for his own show on Saturday mornings.
In a couple of years he was shifted to the 8 p.m. Saturday slot, where his show remained for the next 26 years.
Personal record library.
In a 2008 JazzErie interview, Garts noted that he drew almost entirely from his own collection of discs for the show. His library featured big band and small group artists from the 1920's up until the present. "Would you believe I still have some in my collection I haven't played? And I only play records on the air that I really like."
Chatauqua Jazz favorites.
Garts listed among his favorites many of the jazz musicians who appear regularly at the annual Allegheny Jazz Society's Jazz at Chautauqua series: Scott Hamilton, Dan Barrett, Howard Alden, Michael Moore, Rebecca Kilgore, Dick Hyman. "These are some of the best musicians in the world. It's a privilege to be able to hear them in person."
Hot breakfast...to jazz host.
Garts' interest in jazz began when he was in high school and working for the Erie Railroad. "My mom insisted I have a hot breakfast before I went to work, and we listened to the radio. There happened to be a station on at 5:30 a.m., Stan Shaw from New York City. One wintry morning he played Bob Crosby's 'South Street Parkland Parade.' I was really interested in getting the record, so I wrote to Stan Shaw. I was amazed when he wrote back, told me how to get the record. That inspired me and started my collection."
After high school I went to Cleveland and hung around record stores and clubs, heard lot of great musicians. Then, after the service I had lots of jobs: writing, had a couple of stores, was a painter, car delivery--you name it. But I kept on building my record collection, and when I began doing my own radio show, that gave me something I really loved."
Memorial gifts to WQLN.
Gifts in memory of Bill Garts may be made to WQLN, 8425 Peach St., Erie, PA 16509.
September 4, 2013