If Linda Yohn had a middle name, it would be “music”. Her mother was an opera singer, pianist, and music teacher. Everyone in the family played an instrument and sang in church and at home. As Linda’s parents were of the “Greatest Generation”, swing and big band jazz were often on the hi-fi. This was how Linda’s early jazz love started. In the 1960s, Linda fell in love with Motown music and then with modern jazz after discovering it on late-night radio from Rochester, New York.
Linda Yohn now hosts WRCJ’s “Swing Set” on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. It works well with WRCJ’s classical music. Linda keeps melody first and foremost as she mixes swinging music from the 1920s to the present. Another aspect of the program WRCJ listeners appreciate is that it is acoustic. You hear very little electric piano or electric bass in the mix. This attention to detail is subtle, but it holds the music together for two hours. Artists such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Stan Kenton, and Oscar Peterson are on the playlist, along with current national and Detroit area musicians who bring a full sense of swing to their jazz.
Linda began hosting the “Swing Set” for WRCJ in September 2019, enjoying every minute of the privilege. Linda has enjoyed working professionally in music and radio since 1977. Her career began at WBBY in Westerville, Ohio. Her first public radio position was on WKSU at Kent State University where listeners in Cleveland and surrounding cities were captivated by her musical choices. From WKSU, Linda moved to New York for two years to work as a publicist for Peter Levinson Communications. She represented Dr. Billy Taylor, The Village Vanguard, The Modern Jazz Quartet, Concord Jazz Records, Mel Tormé, and many others. In this position, she made professional friendships that she maintains today. In 1987, she happily returned to the Midwest to become Music Director for WEMU, Eastern Michigan University’s public radio station. With a great leadership team, Linda helped grow WEMU’s audience to become one of the nation’s most respected jazz and news public radio stations.
Linda knows there is more to radio than hiding in a studio and spinning songs. You must be in the community to know what listeners need and want. You must give back to the community. This is why Linda serves on the board of Vincent York’s Jazzistry and The Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association. She has worked as a stage manager for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and consulted with the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Blue LLama Jazz Club, The University Musical Society, The Jazz Journalists Association, and JazzEd Detroit. Musicians turn to Linda for advice on new recordings, liner notes, reviews, hosting concerts, and moral support. She volunteers for Ypsilanti’s Riverside Arts Center, The Ypsilanti District Library, and The Lyman Woodard Organization for the Arts.
These efforts and dedication have not gone unnoticed. Linda has received numerous awards and accolades. JazzWeek, the national online jazz radio publication, has given her their “Presenter of the Year Award”, the “Lifetime Achievement Award” and the “Duke Dubois Jazz Humanitarian Award”. In 2019, the Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters gave Linda the “Public Media Impact Award”. She was the first woman music director to receive this dedication. The Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association gave her their highest honor: “The Ron Brooks Award for Service to the Jazz Community”. Linda was also recognized with two awards from the Jazz Journalists Association. In 2016, she received the “Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Excellence in Jazz Broadcasting”, but Linda was most moved by the Jazz Journalists Association “Detroit Jazz Hero Award” in 2022. This award was conferred by Detroiters who, like Linda, love jazz and serving the jazz community. It is life-affirming to be recognized by community members.
Linda feels that listening to jazz is life-affirming. Its improvisation, honesty, communication, and emphasis on shared experiences can enhance your life. Linda loves life, music, and Detroit. As long as she is able, and WRCJ listeners welcome her, Linda will swing Sundays with the “Swing Set.”