Helen Borgers, the radio voice of Southern California jazz for over three decades, died from cancer on November 12, 2017. Borgers had been hospitalized since September.
Reporter Steve Marble wrote a wonderful obit/tribute in the Los Angels Times that I recommend to Jazz fans and public media folks [link].
Marble said of Borgers in his article:
For decades Helen Borgers was a leading voice of jazz in L.A., a drive-time radio personality with a booming voice and an easy laugh.
On air, Borgers explored both the legends and the up-and-comers who — with some luck and a bit of airplay — might arrive at the threshold of fame.
But her voice vanished from the airwaves in June when she was unexpectedly laid off by [KKJZ] K-Jazz after 38 years.
Raised in the era of the Beatles and the Stones, Borgers became a jazz convert when she was a teen, listening to Ella Fitzgerald in a “meditation room” her parents built for her in the garage.
Borgers began doing volunteer work at K-Jazz, then known as KLON, while studying literature at Cal State Long Beach. Her brother, Ken Borgers, who was program director at the station, said he asked her one day to fill in for a deejay who was ill. The deejay never returned, and she never left.
We reported in early October [link] about Borgers’ situation and the extremely rude treatment she received from KKJZ’s corporate management. KKJZ fired her as of July 1, 2017 citing budgetary concerns.
Not only did KKJZ turf her, they relegated her to the status of “non person” wiping any reference to her on the KKJZ website.
However, the LA Jazz community rallied to help her with fundraising events and lots of love.
OTHER NOTABLE PUBLIC MEDIA DEATHS IN 2017
John Hingbergen, 67, public radio host and manager, died on November 28. WEKU station manager Roger Duvall confirmed that Hingsbergen died suddenly Tuesday night. Hinsbergen was Content Director at WEKU since 201, following a career that began in Cincinnati.
John Witherspoon, 88, a pioneer in early public broadcasting and the first director of television at CPB, died in October at his home in Coronado, Calif. He was 88. Witherspoon was the first general manager of KPBS in San Diego.
Witherspoon was part of the group that created the public broadcasting in the 1960s and early 1970s. Witherspoon witnessed President Lyndon Johnson sign the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.
Vidal Guzmán, 60, senior manager of client relations for Public Radio International (PRI), drowned in August while he and his family were on vaction in Puerto Rico. He died while trying to save his son who was struggling to stay afloat in sudden ocean waves.
Denise Franklin 59, manager of WFDD, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, died in June after a brief illness. She was an award winning television reporter and anchor that left the bright lights to establish a strong news presence at WFDD. She managed the station for over 11 years.
Stuart McLean, 68, a Canadian journalist who created the long-running weekly music program The Vinyl Café, died in February. The show became one of the CBC’s most popular programs. The Vinyl Café also became a public radio hit in the US and the UK.
McLean announced in December 2016 that he was suspending the show to concentrate on his treatment for melanoma.
Frank Deford, 78, who was a regular commentator on Morning Edition for many years, died in the summer of 2017. Deford, a gifted writer and reporter, covered the human side of sports.
Deford retired from Morning Edition on May 3, 2017, after his 1,656th weekly commentary. He began his association with NPR in1980.