Over the past four decades, Jon Kertzer has booked Bumbershoot, founded a string of shows at KEXP, spent some time with Microsoft Music, and gone to work with Sub Pop on a world-music imprint, Next Ambiance. Kertzer's experience at various Seattle music institutions has made him a wealth of knowledge on genres beyond world music. He can tell you what the crowd was like at the old Coliseum during Miles Davis' set, but he doesn't miss a beat at the mention of Natalie Portman's Shaved Head.
After his May 16 shift DJing Best Ambiance--the world-music show he started on KEXP, then KCMU, in 1984--Kertzer is picking up and heading for Edmonton, where he will assume his new gig as the director of the folkwaysAlive! project in ethnomusicology at the University of Alberta, where he will also be an associate professor. KEXP's DJ Chilly will launch a new Latin-music show in Best Ambiance's 6-9 p.m. slot on Monday evenings, starting May 23.Kertzer says hosting Best Ambiance has been one of the most enjoyable gigs he's had in town, and that leaving the show is one of the toughest things about leaving town. And while he and KEXP discussed him hosting the show from Canada (John Richards hosted The Morning Show from New York for half the year for a time), in the end, he didn't think he'd have time, or that it would be the best move for the show.
"The show's a lot more than three hours a week," Kertzer said in an interview yesterday. "Also, I feel like I want to live here if I'm going to do the show here. It's part of the community, really. I didn't feel like doing it from a distance. I didn't feel like it was right."
Kerter says he plans on returning to Seattle regularly to visit friends and continue working with Sub Pop on Next Ambiance.
In addition to starting Best Ambiance, Kertzer was KCMU's station manager in 1981, and later founded the long-running local music show Audioasis--currently hosted by Hannah Levin--and world-music show, Wo' Pop.
"Simply put, Jon is one of the founding fathers of the station," KEXP Executive Director Tom Mara said in a press release. "We're so proud of his accomplishments during these past three decades. I can't overstate his tremendous impact."