Broadcaster “Tom the Jazzman” Mallison died Sept. 6 in a head-on collision as he was driving home to Greenville, N.C., after his weekly Sunday night radio show on North Carolina’s Eastern Public Radio. He had been a steady volunteer broadcaster on the station in New Bern, N.C., for more than 27 years. Mallison was 75.
Mallison was a tremendous advocate for and promoter of jazz, and a mentor to many younger jazz broadcasters around the country. He was a faithful attendee at the Newport Jazz Festival each summer for decades. His jazz knowledge and his gentle spirit will be missed at festivals, conferences and seminars galore, and his soothing voice will be missed by his many Eastern Public Radio fans.
California-based pianist Lisa Hilton was stunned when hearing of the tragedy, but also had a keen perspective on Mallison: “The last thing he did was his jazz show. That’s Tom the Jazzman until the end.”
An Evening With Tom the Jazzman was the longest running jazz program in North Carolina. Mallison took great pride in the fact that he never repeated or reran a program. Everything was fresh week in and week out.
In 2003, jazz programmers across the United States selected Tom the Jazzman to be the first recipient of JazzWeek‘s Duke Dubois Humanitarian Award for his efforts in jazz promotion and jazz education, his radio programming and his willingness to help other jazz radio programmers and stations.
Reprinted from Ken Franckling’s Jazz Notes.