Born and raised in Vermont, John Birchard followed high school by joining the U-S Air Force. It was in the Air Force, in Fairbanks, Alaska, that he found his career. He began broadcasting with Armed Forced Radio. After his discharge, he attended the University of Alabama, earning a bachelor’s degree in Radio & TV. Following graduation, a radio job took him to Hartford, CT and a full-time role as a jazz disc jockey. He worked at WCCC-FM for five years, then moved across town to WTIC where he was a producer (and host of a weekly jazz show) for two more years. The next seven were spent in New Haven, CT as a talk show host and emcee of the annual Quinnipiac Intercollegiate Jazz Festival. Do you see a pattern developing here?
Wherever he went, John maintained his love of jazz. He served as emcee for jazz concerts and festivals at Yale University (the Gil Evans Orchestra, The CTI All-Stars, Ella Fitzgerald) and other venues – and was master of ceremonies for the Hartford (CT) Jazz Society’s 20th birthday festival (Dizzy Gillespie, Marian McPartland, Jaki Byard, Herb Ellis/Barney Kessel). The Voice of America in Washington, DC was home for the final fifteen years of his half-century in broadcasting. And at VOA, he hosted a combined salute to the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. State Department international tour featuring Dizzy Gillespie’s band and to the memory of VOA’s beloved jazz voice Willis Conover. In retirement, he has written and published a book, Jock Around the Clock. Now, he hosts CYBERJAZZTODAY.