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For Three Decades, Ken Wiley Has Talked About Others' Chops And Shown His Own

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For KPLU's Ken Wiley, a decades-long broadcast career didn’t begin from a passion for radio, exactly.

“A friend of mine – we were out drinking somewhere – he said, ‘You know a lot about the music, why don’t you get a job on the radio?’ ” Wiley recalled.

“I went, you know, 'Where?' ”

The friend said Pacific Lutheran University has a radio station.  A couple of weeks later, after the idea germinated a bit, Wiley pulled out the phone book and found the university’s number.  

He ended up on the phone with KPLU’s program director.  “He said, ‘Hey, you called at the right time. The one guy that we have doing the (jazz) program has to leave.  Why don’t you come out and we’ll talk?”

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Credit Kevin Kniestedt
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A Wiley playlist.

That was July 1982.  Wiley's not stopped talking about jazz since.

In fact, nearly anyone who has listened to KPLU on a Sunday afternoon over the last three-plus decades, likely has heard Wiley's show, "The Art of Jazz." It offers one of the most complete musical history lessons on jazz on the radio.

Prior to his broadcasting career, Wiley was an educator in the Tacoma School system and during that time amassed a record collection that would make a Smithsonian curator jealous.

When he retired from teaching, Wiley found his way to share his love and passion for this music over the airwaves.

KPLU’s Kevin Kniestedt spoke with Ken Wiley for a story that originally aired on KPLU’s Sound Effect.