Who is Eric Alan, really?
ERIC ALAN BIOG
Eric's choice of music is eclectic, what appeals to him and he hopes to the listener as well. “Music is my hobby, passion and livelihood and on the Jazz Rendezvous website and radio show he plays anything that is easy and laid back, anything that makes for relaxation, from blues to fusion to mainstream, Dixieland and beyond” he says. The programme is a bridge, marrying the genres and styles. “I also want people to learn about the different varieties and styles of jazz. The focus is an equal mix of vocal to instrumental and the important component is South African Jazz”. He also includes number of entertaining listener participation features during his programmes that engage and entice the listeners to b e part of his various programmes.
Eric started off his working life with Capab Ballet and learnt to enjoy ballet music. “No I wasn't a dancer, although the late David Poole did ask of I would like to become one, my answer was a short and swift, no thanks”. He became a stage manager, touring the Cape Province for a year with the company learning the theatre ropes and got interested in sound and lighting.” he says.
Eric went on to the then Nico Malan Theatre Centre, now Artscape for its opening, doing lights, stage management and sound mainly on opera stage. After leaving Capab, he went into sales and marketing also started operating as a mobile DJ on the side until he realised that he could turn his hobby into a business. “I got the contract to arrange the musical entertainment at the first and only Pierhead Harbour Festival which building of the V & A Waterfront. This gave me my first exposure to the airwaves, of a kind, I decided to start an internal radio station for the festival and accept advertising as a means of stretching my very limited budget. The result was that I could hire better entertainment and musicians for the festival.” Eric said. It was about that time he decided to become a self-employed person running his own mobile disco doing weddings, parties and working in clubs. This was a major decision in those days, no security, no medical aid and pension and a skradonk for a car.
For eight years he loved it, then decided he’d had enough of clubs and parties and indulged in his other hobby, Italian food, and opened a restaurant in Worcester with some Italian partners, and went on to be a very successful endeavour. It was then time to move back to the bright lights of city life sold his shares and headed back to Cape Town, took a short holiday, before long was back in business looking for interesting opportunities.
The process of the freeing the airwaves in 1993 was well on its way prior to the first democratic elections in South Africa which saw the first temporary (30 days) Community Radio station licenses being issued and result was Eric getting enthusiastically involved with Peace Radio, which was formed by the National Peace Secretariat, to help foster peace prior the first democratic elections in S. A. This was then followed by a month with another temporary (30 days) Community Radio station CTFM and, then another term with Peace Radio, which had got its second licence. It was with Peace Radio that he learnt about community radio broadcasting from well-known professional broadcaster such as Martin Baillie, Alex Jay and Neil Johnson. At the station, he did seven shows a week, four hours a day for 30 days. For the next year, he worked on Peace 2000 FM presenting and producing. Then, he decided, it was time for another break.
Eric compiled CD's for Club Music Direct for a six-month stint, which was great fun he said. Then along came RWCTV (Rugby World Cup TV) and his rest period was once again over and, for the next 30 days, produced two live TV talk shows, one English and the other Afrikaans.
TV was not the way to go, he decided, radio was where his heart was set, so when a new community radio station, Fine Music Radio got its licence in the middle of 1994, Eric was employed as a Producer/ Presenter – Jazz programming and music manager. The station featured unique mix of jazz and classical music, which worked with listeners learning about different kinds and styles of good music. Jazz and Classical music are the highest form of musical expression in his opinion, and over the years are musical forms that have not been given much prominence on national or regional radio. Eric takes great pride in the South African jazz he plays during his shows, not because of the quota imposed by the ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa), but because we have really good music and musicians in South Africa.
After 14 years of unbroken service at Fine Music Radio, Eric was offered the opportunity to present and produce his show on the national airwaves of South Africa on PBS station Radio 2000 to great success which continues, now into his second year at Radio 2000 with a new show, The Late, Late Show which is a jazz music and talk show covering a wide variety of subjects which fall within the mandate of PBS Radio in South Africa.
Eric also runs a successful website devoted to jazz in South Africa, Africa and beyond today. He is a member of The South African Jazz Educators Association and was member of the now defunct International Association for Jazz Education. Eric writes and reviews jazz for various newspapers and periodicals as well as the jazz columnist for the prestigious South African arts and cultural magazine Roots.
Music is not a style, but a lifestyle to be enjoyed and shared with others who equally enjoy the passionate side of life. Eric Alan