Collection Summary

Time Out for Jazz with Charlie Plank aired on WUOL 90.5, Louisville, Kentucky, from 1979-1994, with some repeated airings after 1994. This collection represents 130 episodes from throughout the series’ airings, with 31 available for online access. Having first appeared as a special guest on WUOL with Ted Fleischaker (The Big Band Stand and Cabbages and Kings) in the early 1970s, Plank was offered his own show, called Time Out for Jazz. Recordings for the show were primarily sourced from Plank’s own collection, which was vast in its range of artists, eras, and styles. Most episodes centered around a topic, such as selected performers and composers/lyricists, including Duke Ellington, Benny Carter, Johnny Mercer, Johnny Hodges, Lionel Hampton, Dave Tough, Cootie Williams, and Willard Robison. Episodes also centered around themes, including “Jazz by the Number,” “A State of Mind,” “Boogie Woogie,” “Moon Jazz,” and “Trains,” as well as various holiday-themed shows. Plank, a lifelong admirer and collector/chronicler of the works of Duke Ellington, featured frequent episodes on Ellington’s music (Ellington’s own recordings as well as other artists performing his music) and the individual artists in his bands, as well as shows focused on Ellington’s close collaborator Billy Strayhorn.

Time Out for Jazz had a devoted fan base in Louisville and further out in Kentucky where the WUOL signal could be picked up. Plank was always happy to answer any questions and correspond with listeners who wrote to him. A severe stroke in 1994 ended any possibility for new episodes of Time Out for Jazz. The stroke did not diminish Plank’s love of music or his voracious appetite for listening, research, and learning, and he continued his collaboration with Duke Ellington discographer Willie Timner, and stayed an active member of the international Duke Ellington Music Society (DEMS), the Duke Ellington Jazz Society (TDES), and the Louisville Jazz Society. Plank passed away in 2016 at the age of 88.

The Time Out for Jazz with Charlie Plank collection exemplifies the dedication of many public radio stations to continue to provide their audiences with jazz programming during a period when much of the public radio system had shifted to news, talk, and information formats. Beginning in the late 1950s, many commercial radio stations included jazz shows in their line-ups, but most such shows did not survive past the 1970s. During a period in which jazz was becoming recognized in academia as an art form worthy of study and respect, noncommercial radio stations moved in to fill “niches too small to interest commercial services,” including jazz, according to public radio historian and pioneer broadcaster Jack Mitchell.

Collection Background

Time Out for Jazz with Charlie Plank was broadcast on WUOL, Louisville, KY, once a month on Friday nights between 1979-1994. The family of Charles A. Plank contributed a collection of episodes from the series to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting in 2023.