edited jazz nightA room full of people were on hand Friday night at the Black River Gallery Ballroom to enjoy an evening of jazz, and to celebrate the birth of Poplar Bluff’s first public radio station.

Jazz enthusiasts not only had the chance to hear a style of music they don’t frequently get to enjoy in Poplar Bluff, but more importantly, it gave them the opportunity to connect with one another, and plan for the growth of a new musical and arts and entertainment community in Poplar Bluff.

Lead vocalist for the Black River Jazz Orchestra was Judi Richardson-Rockwell, who is not only a singer of jazz, but a lover of it.

“It was just so nice to be able to come together with a room full of people who all love the same thing,” said Richardson-Rockwell. “I think this is the beginning of something really important for Poplar Bluff.”

One of the organizers of the event, Dan Jackson, believes KPMB, 101.9, can help lead the way for giving the community an important alternative to what they normally hear through area radio stations.

“Certainly there is nothing wrong with country, rock, and pop, but we think people are going to love having an alternative,” explained Jackson.

This was the second fundraiser for the fledgling radio station, which is now on the air. And it marks a beginning of a new phase for the station, in which programming is going to be developed.

“At this point we have been basically playing a variety of music that people are telling us they really enjoy. But now we are to the point of developing programming further,” said Jackson.

What could programming look like in the future?

Larry Kimbrow, who heads the programming committee, says he would love to hear from the listeners about what they want.

“We’re hearing a lot of suggestions already,” he said. “I think we will have a lot of interesting programming that could feature local musical artists, jazz, blues, and many other formats. But the key is our programming will be local driven.”

Richardson-Rockwell commented that she is excited about the possibility of live performances being carried by the station as programming.

“The possibilities are just beyond cool!” said the jazz enthusiast and performer.

Jackson noted he was also very happy with the support area businesses and individuals gave Friday night’s event.

Event sponsors included Maya’s Restaurant, Frontier Restaurant, Luecke Distributing Company, Fox Radio Network, Daniel Jackson, DDS, Simmon’s Tire and Automotive, The Beehive Natural Foods, Artfully Framed, Robert L. Smith Attorney at Law, and the Black River Art Gallery and Ballroom. Several area businesses and individuals also donated items for the event’s silent auction, which was quite successful in raising additional funds for the event.

Providing the entertainment Friday night were members of the Black River Jazz Orchestra: Dan Jackson, Ryan Humphrey, Pete Parysek, and Richard Wilson, along with vocalist Judi Richardson-Rockwell.
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Tammy Hilderbrand has a bachelor's degree in Communications from SEMO University, and a master's degree in education. She wrote for Cape Girardeau's Southeast Missourian Newspaper for over five years, taught in the Cape Girardeau Public School System for 16 years, and now owns her own design and custom jewelry company. Tammy lives in Ripley County and looks forward to new opportunities for our entire region to grow.