Four years ago, Robert S. Mikell answered a want-ad by KFSR (FM 90.7) searching for a new host for the Fresno State radio station’s jazz program.
Mikell, a longtime Fresno State professor, had no radio experience. What he did have was a passion for jazz that went back to his days growing up in New Orleans.
Mikell’s audition consisted of sharing a handful of CDs and recording 30 minutes of introductions and backfill. A couple of weeks later, he had the job.
“I told them I needed to practice and did one more practice before going on the air,” Mikell says. “I thought they would have an engineer with me on the first show, but I was by myself.
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“I sweated profusely that first show.”
Those worries are gone. Mikell, 76, has settled into hosting the “Red Beans & Jazz” program that airs 9 a.m. to noon Fridays on KFSR. He’s known as the Southern Gentleman DJ.
His music selections and passion for red beans both reflect his Louisiana roots. After being raised in New Orleans, he moved to Oakland. At the same time, he was working for a supermarket chain and soon he was transferred to Fresno.
He always thought he would go back to Oakland. Instead, Mikell stayed in Fresno, teaching at Fresno State for 35 years. He was one of the first African-Americans to teach management and marketing at the school. Before he retired in 2007, Mikell also taught classes in African studies.
His radio show features a wide variety of jazz, from Dixieland to swing to electric fusion. Often he will theme his selections to match an important day. With Father’s Day coming up, for instance, “I will play only female singers who can serenade all the fathers,” Mikell says.
He likes to engage his audience, asking them to name their favorite trumpet or saxophone player. Mikell says that’s because hosting the radio show is an extension of all those years he spent in a classroom. He doesn’t get to look in the faces of those he’s talking to, but Mikell knows they are out there and he has a deep passion for being able to share his knowledge of jazz.
If you would like to engage the radio host, the request line is 559-278-KFSR.
Dave Thomson, who co-hosted the morning show with Terri Ann at KSOF Soft Rock 98.9, is no longer with the local FM radio station. Thomson says he was told by station management that they were “going in a different direction.”
There had been no hints of a potential change and Thomson says he was “blindsided” by the decision.
Thomson came to Soft Rock in January 2013 after 14 years as a morning show host in Sacramento. The radio veteran previously worked in Philadelphia, Detroit and Houston. He’s started his search for a new job and while Fresno is at the top of his list, Thomson isn’t ruling out any market.
Thomson will get a break from the 2:45 a.m. alarm. He still wants to be a morning show host, but it will be nice to sleep in for now.
Along with the Fresno broadcast, Thomson also was on KJSN (FM 102.3) in Modesto.
“I had a wonderful time relating to people in Fresno and Modesto. I will miss all the nice charitable people from the Valley Animal Center, Children’s Hospital and the other groups I got to work with,” Thomson says.
ABC30 will expand its half-hour midday newscast to one hour. The change will begin Monday, Sept. 12.
Jason Oliveira and Margot Kim will be the co-anchors with Rob Bradley handling the “StormWarn30” weather forecasts.
The expanded newscast will air at 11 a.m. on KFSN (Channel 30.1) followed by “The Chew” at noon and “General Hospital” at 1 p.m. “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” will move to 2 p.m. weekdays. The new syndicated show “Right This Minute” will air at 2:30 p.m. followed by “Dr. Oz” at his new time of 3 p.m.
In the house
Fresno native Bridgette Dunning, 24, is one of the houseguests for the upcoming season of the CBS reality series “Big Brother.” Dunning is a traveling nurse who currently lives in Ventura.
The winner of “Big Brother” takes home $500,000.
The season premiere of “Big Brother” will be 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 22 on KGPE (Channel 47.1). Julie Chen returns as the host of the hit summer series.
On the floor
Gavin Morales, an 11-year-old from Fresno, has made it through the auditions round of the FOX reality competition series “So You Think You Can Dance.” The next appearance on the series for the young contemporary dancer will be on the callbacks episode starting at 8 p.m. Monday, June 20 on KMPH (Channel 26.1).
Dancers selected during auditions by judges Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo will battle at “The Academy” in Los Angeles. The SYTYCD All-Stars meet the young dancers and decide which 10 contestants will earn a spot to be their partner.
Sing out strong
Fresno’s Audra McDonald had a part in one of the most entertaining segments of the Sunday broadcast of the Tony Awards: “Carpool Karaoke,” a comedy bit Tony host James Corden has been doing on his CBS late-night show.
McDonald joined Corden, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jane Krakowski for a few musical numbers as they drove around New York. The performance of “One Day More” really showed off McDonald’s incredible voice.