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Author Discusses New Willis Conover Bio at William Patterson University’s Wayne Campus

Willis Conover, the host of Voice of America’s jazz radio program for more than four decades and one of the United States’ greatest cultural ambassadors, is the subject of a new biography by William Paterson University professor Terence Ripmaster.

Ripmaster will discuss his book, Willis Conover: Broadcasting Jazz to the World-A Biography, at the Cheng Library Auditorium on William Paterson’s Wayne campus, Oct. 23, 12:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Ripmaster’s bio covers Conover’s career and lifelong fascination with jazz, from his early experiences as a broadcaster to his years as a promoter and his profoundly influential work as Voice of America’s rotund-voiced jazz DJ and on-air interviewer. During his tenure in Washington, D.C. with VOA, Conover broadcasted jazz greats to countries behind the Iron Curtain, where listening to music symbolic of American democracy was considered criminal. He became an iconic American figure in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Recently, as the final program of the 2007 Duke Ellington Jazz Festival in D.C., Paquito D’Rivera led an international all-star blowing session at the VOA building, in tribute to Conover, who died in 1996.

Originally Published