“The Real Deal” on Hawaii Public Radio Celebrates Its 35th Anniversary

Contributed by Carolann Biederman

Seth Markow
Seth Markow’s jazz radio program, “The Real Deal,” marks its 35th year on the air in Hawaii this February.

Hawaii Public Radio’s HPR1 (88.1 FM) is home to “The Real Deal” on Saturday and Sunday nights from 8 to 10 p.m., but the origins of the show go back to 1973 and a closed-circuit high school station. Valuable experience was gained during college in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1976-79 with Seth’s programs — classical, multicultural and jazz — on WORT. Arriving in Honolulu in 1979 as a graduate assistant at the UH-Manoa Music Department, Seth soon brought his expertise to KTUH, which broadcast “The Real Deal” from 1983 to 1989.

When the fledging second station of Hawaii Public Radio came into being in 1989 (then known as KIPO — “Jazz, Rhythm and News”), Seth was hired as music director and program host, bringing his passion for a wide variety of music, his knowledge of jazz history and his personal music library to HPR (there was next to none, and little funding).

With his unique, sonorous bass voice and his impeccable musical taste, Seth creates a wide range of programs that appeal to listeners of all ages. The show most often features birthday celebrations of jazz giants, from the well known to the obscure. One night you might hear jazz history from its New Orleans roots and the next, the “out” explorations of the ’60s. Or from bebop to hard bop, back to swing, up to something truly contemporary. (This is not “smooth jazz” territory.)

From classic tracks by jazz masters to new music by exceptional young players, the two-hour presentations are researched, sequenced, (very loosely) scripted, voiced and produced by Seth.

Following his deep thirst to learn and share all he could about the evolution of jazz icons Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Seth created for each musician a year and a half of weekly two-hour shows: the lively and informative “MilesTones” and the profound, exploratory “Trane Tracks,” in addition to presenting “The Real Deal.”

When asked what inspires him to keep on keeping on with “The Real Deal,” Seth says:

“The music! It’s one of America’s greatest gifts to the world. It was born in a climate of prejudice and poverty, but to people worldwide who can hear the message, whether it’s in a funky bar or a house of worship, it means freedom, fun, deep feeling, creativity, community, brother- and sisterhood. It’s my civic duty to help this music be more appreciated and enjoyed, and I hope the show keeps rolling for another 35 years!”

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