Mel retired from his jazz show on September 5th, 2007 after 19 years continuous service to jazz radio. What began as a regional specialist music show more recently developed into a cult worldwide hit much appreciated by a whole new audience thanks to the world wide web. Indeed, you made Mel Hill's Jazz the most popular Listen Again show produced by BBC Local Radio with around 20,000 hits each month. A wonderful selection of music, plus Mel's vast knowledge and relaxed presentation style proved a winning combination.
On a personal note, I worked with Mel for about 9 years - and can honestly say I enjoyed every moment spent in the jovial company of a consummate professional.
This is how Mel (modestly) chose to describe his show...
"The format of my weekly BBC Radio Stoke jazz show is just about as basic as it gets. I work out an order of tracks that appeal to me and - when they're played on-air - I do a spot of chuntering in-between each one! Ask me why such a show should have evaded the axe for almost two decades and two reasons come to mind...
First, I genuinely love virtually every style of jazz, so, when you listen in - on your radio or online - you're almost certain to hear something right up your alley, plus be offered some alternatives to surprise and intrigue.
Second, I've clocked up over half a century as a working musician tackling everything from 'Tiger Rag' to 'Cherokee'. All those thousands of gigs must have taught me something - if it was only how hard it is to do it right!
Oh, lastly, I always try to remember that the show isn't about me. It's about the music and those of us here in Jazzland who love it. Not the Master Chef then, but the waiter - and I'm happy to be of service!"
Mel's favourite tracks - featured in his final programme:
Battle Royal - Duke Ellington Orchestra & Count Basie Orchestra / Bye Bye Blackbird - Ben Webster et al / Ring Dem Bells - Lionel Hampton & his Orchestra / Concerto For Cootie - Duke Ellington & his Orchestra / Lester Leaps In - Lester Young et al / The Peacocks - Stan Getz & Jimmie Rowles / September In The Rain - Harry 'Sweets' Edison et al / Dancing On The Ceiling - Frank Sinatra / Summer Wind - Frank Sinatra / Laura - Sidney Bechet Quartet / Ko Ko - Charlie Parker's Reboppers / It's Me, O Lord (Standin' In The Need Of Prayer) - Charlie Haden & Hank Jones / Just A Closer Walk With Thee - George Lewis & his Ragtime Band / Soul Of Things: III - Tomasz Stanko Quartet / Jumpin' At The Woodside - Count Basie Orchestra / Wild Man Blues - Louis Armstrong & his Hot Seven / Moon Song - Louis Armstrong; Oscar Peterson et al / My One And Only - Eddie Condon Dixieland All-Stars / Riverboat Shuffle - Eddie Condon & his All-Stars / For All We Know - Billie Holiday with Ray Ellis & his Orchestra
Nineteen years presenting a weekly a radio show is an achievement by any standard, the fact that he never missed a single programme is another! But Mel made the difficult decision to hand over the reigns and spend more time doing the things he loves - like grabbing his trumpet and playing more live music. Who can blame him! Here's what some of his dedicated band of listeners wrote at the news of Mel's well deserved retirement...
Bob & Judy in Portland, Oregon, USA
For some reason it is our lot to stumble upon all the good things in life just as they are winding up (don't ask). We only discovered your show about six weeks ago! Oh well. Good luck with all your new free time! You did a great show: conversational without meandering, knowledgeable without pedantry, good taste without being narrow. We hope your legacy lives on. Best Wishes
Anthony D Baynes, Yorkshire
I have been listening to Mel Hill's two hour programme since it was put on the Web in your 'Listen Again' service. I was very sad to hear this week was Mel's last one. The choice of music has been second to none, absolutely brilliant. Mel's seasoned voice and observations and knowledge made the show great. I will really miss him. Please pass my comments to him with thanks for hundreds of hours of pure enjoyment
Hi Mel, I couldn't let your last show go by without a quick email. I only discovered your show in recent years but am an avid listener every week (and I never did win any of those competitions!) As well as enjoying the classics your show has introduced me and my friends to many new jazz arists. Many Thanks and best wishes for the future
Having listened to your show for a number of years I would like to thank you and say Be Happy.
Diane Frager, Vancouver, Canada
I am so sorry you are leaving. I have enjoyed your program for a long time. Your soft spoken intelligent comments and choice of music are rare and entertaining. Thank you again for the hours of pleasure I've had listening to your programme
On behalf of all the members of the Birmingham Jazz Record Society I would like to express our regrets on the ending of your programme which has given us all so much enjoyment over the last 19 years. We would like to wish you well in the future and also our best wishes go to the new presenter
Bryan Williams (and Jan)
Your show - unsurpassed! You are a wonderful ambassador for jazz, your relaxed, knowledgable style and your choice of music, excellent. Thank you very much and we wish you well for the future. All the best
Seth Hensley, Tokyo
Mel, I just wanted you to know how saddened I was to hear you'd be retiring. Some things in life we come to depend on (death and taxes notwithstanding, of course) - a special treat we believe will always be on the menu; a lover's response to a certain phrase; our favorite chocolate bar; our favorite programs. Whether you remember me or not, you gave me my thirty seconds of fame when you read a letter from me a few years ago. I am still living in Japan, though I now have a wife and baby girl and I've moved from Saitama into Tokyo proper. What I said back then was "Mel Hill Rocks", and I still stand by those words. I will be digging into your previously played tracks list for a long time to come, finding those recordings you used because there's no one else in the world of jazz whose picks I trust more. Long live Mel -- guest appearances heartily welcomed
Mike Thorn, Wymondham, Norfolk
Hi Mel, I found your programme on the internet in the last 12 months and have enjoyed it immensely. Sorry to hear you are leaving the show and wish you well for the future. I do hope your replacement maintains the high standard you have set
Phil Riddell, Pregnin, France
Dear Mel, This is just to wish you all the very best as you leave your radio show. I am not resident in the UK, so have to listen on line, and have been doing so for a couple of years now give or take. There are three things in particular that have made your show stand out from all the others: your knowledge of the music is an encyclopaedic as Humph's; but you pepper the show with interesting personal anecdotes and associated insight; and your selections have been more eclectic than those of other jazz presented (although a little bit too luch Ray Charles for my taste!). Thanks very much then for all the great shows, and the greatest of luck for the future. Best wishes
Sorry to hear that you are finishing. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to you over the years. I listen on the net & look forward to your successor keeping up to the high standard that you have set. All the best for the future thanks very much
Dear Mel, I have just heard the news that you are leaving the programme. What a shock, what a shame. Good luck in what ever you do, and many thanks for the many hours you have cheered me up
Paul Tate (Swansea)
Dear Mel, I'm sad to hear that you're leaving the Programme. I've listened (at Work), every week, on the Internet down here in Swansea for at least 2 years. I've learnt a lot about jazz, and enjoyed your selections and your style. When a show gets "discovered" and listened to all over the world, then you know you're doing something right. Thank you and best wishes
Jarmo J. Jaakola, Helsinki, Finland
Hi, Mel, I'm listening to your penultimate jazz show on the Internet here in Helsinki, Finland and realizing that indeed you will be signing off shortly, want to thank you for all the wonderful programs you have put on the air over so many years, decades, in fact. I have been a regular listener for many years and am really saddened to see you disappear from the airwaves or cyberspace, to be more specific. Your choice of tunes and jazz styles has always been impeccable and in good taste, giving exposure to the great masterpieces of the music we all love. It's been absolutely lovely tuning in to your show on the Internet, and enjoying some of the treasured recordings in what is virtually a hi-fi format. So, with that, I wish you all the very best in your retirement years. There is no question that you have a lot of friends all over the world who will share these sentiments
Gutted! Mel, such a shame your show is ending. It won't be the same without your mellifluous tones (no pun intended) guiding us through the programme. I listen every week for my jazz fix and its the end of an era. I wont make a track request as I'm sure you'll play a belting selection of favourites on your last show. All the best in the future
Mel, I am near to tears at your leaving. I`ve enjoyed you and your music so much over the years....and it has been such civilising, informative, and enjoyable experience. I still can`t believe you are going. You will leave a huge gap in my life.
Best wishes in whatever you decide to do with the rest of your life
Kai Thurfors in Sweden
Mel, I found your programme on the net early this year and I have been a steady listener every week since then. Your mix of jazz suits me fine, also your commenting style. I hope your successor will walk in your shoes. Thanks a lot for a string of good programmes!
Mel - very sorry to hear you're stopping! Your excellent taste in jazz has meant the programme has been a great companion to me over here in Denmark, as I sit here working and listening to your show on the worldwide web - often several times in the course of a week. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the programme over the past years, and I wish you all the very best of luck with your future activities
Ron Tye, Bishops Stortford
My thanks to Mel Hill for his jazz show. Ever since I got a broadband internet connection I have never missed a show - always looking forward to "Walking Shoes" as an introduction to a good listen
Laura Sellers, Memphis, Tennessee
Hi Mel! I am a relatively recent listener to your radio show and I can't tell you how much I enjoy it! I'm a college student here in Memphis and listening to your show online has helped me through writing many term papers in the past year. I'm originally from Kansas City and I've grown up on jazz and I must say you have excellent taste in your selections and that makes your show the best all around jazz program(me) I've ever heard. I'm a bit sadded to hear that I will no longer get to hear your voice after next week, but best wishes for your future plans. Thanks so much
Peter Buckley, an old Cheshire Cat, Northwich
So very sorry you are leaving us, Wednesdays will not be the same without you, I cannot express how much pleasure you have given us over the years, I think it is no exaggeration to say yours is/was the best jazz programme on the BBC, and I include Geoffrey Smith's JRR in that. I hope you continue to play the music and keep in good health, enjoy your 'retirement' and thanks again for the jazz
David Grice, Trentham
Hi Mel, I wrote to you two weeks ago saying how much I enjoyed the show - and after listening to lots of Jazz on various stations over the years - I was so glad to find that my local radio has a fantastic show available. I also mentioned that I'd be listening in to your broadcasts in the future. I can't believe that the second week that I listened you say that you are bailing out. I hope that this wasn't down to me contacting the show! I feel that i have missed out on many a good broadcast. All that I can say is that I wish you all the best for the future and that your replacement is only half as good. My only regret is that I didn't known about the show a few years earlier
Dear Mel, Sorry to hear that you've decided that 19 years is long enough. Having found the programme on the net about 3 years ago I've enjoyed not just the range of the music but especially your informative presentation. I wish you well for the future and in common with the other posters here want to thank you for the listening pleasure you have given us
Neil Dudman, Chippenham, Wiltshire
Just a word of thanks for the many hours of good music I have been able to re-listen to online while 'working' at home this last year or so. You probably will not recall, but a couple of years ago, 2006 I think, we met briefly one evening in 'Old Milos' Taverna on Symi. It was your wife who mentioned that you had a program "tucked away" on BBC Radio Stoke, since then I have enjoyed re-listening many times
Hi Mel. I just want to say thanks for all the good sounds that you have relayed over the years, Even though the show will still run, I will miss your open friendly style of presenting the show. As I said before, 'you have the right mix of jazz for all listeners'. I shall record your last show on my hard drive, and hope that the new guy loves jazz as much as you. Nice one Mel and good luck. Thanks mate
Roger Cairns, L.A.
Hi Mel, Just enjoyed another great show. I'm only sorry I didn't stumble across you sooner, having just been a listener for a couple of months. So, I'll definitely tune in 'live' if at all possible - which is 11am here - to hear you introduce your successor. All the very best in your future endeavours and thanks for a great job well done
We're really going to miss Mel's lovely voice, aren't we? But at least the programme is safe even if Radio Hereford & Worcester did decide to play some mindless pop mixed with chatter instead of the excellent jazz we've become used to. Thank the lord for the internet! I wish Mel's replacement a warm welcome and lots of luck
Paola Consolaro - Barcelona
Dear Mel, I'm very sorry to hear that you're leaving. I really enjoyed your show. I've been listening to it every week since I discovered it on the Web 4 years ago. It won't be the same without you. The music was great and your joyful laugh always cheered me up. All the Best!
Hi Mel, I wrote on the message board a few weeks ago and finished by saying "your program is now a MUST HEAR for me each week and I would GREATLY MISS it if it were to end" So what do I hear when I listened on 'Listen again' this week? ONLY that you are finishing soon - after 19 YEARS! I DO believe that it is NOT just the MUSIC you play but ALSO the style and content of your CHAT which makes the programme so UNMISSABLE. You will be a hard act to follow! I want to take this opportunity to wish you ALL THE BEST for the future and would like to thank you for ALL the pleasure you have given me as a listener week after week
Pete Cargill (Kirkcaldy, Fife)
Hi Mel, Very sorry to hear you have decided to call it a day. My best wishes for whatever plans you have. Particularly peeved about you going as I only discovered your show about a couple of years ago and introduced you to a fellow jazz fan, Jim Greig (sax player) who is also going to miss your chat and choice of music. So all the very best Mel
Mel I only found your show on the internet when I got on-line a home less than a year ago. It's become one of my "must listen to" shows, and I'm so sorry that you're about to retire (you and Humph in the same year). I shall certainly listen with interest to your successor, and if he's even half as interesting, that'll be okay by me. Best wishes for your retirement
Jan Clare, Margate
Mel, I am desolate to learn you are leaving us. My weeks stagger from Wednesday to Wednesday waiting for the next new batch of treasures. Thank you for helping find someone to plug the gap, and not leaving us totally bereft, but they are big shoes to be filled. (Maybe by the time they have done 19 years they might turn into a favourite!) You have brought us so much pleasure, such a wide range of artists - favourites and new sounds, not all big names. You present from a sound knowledge base and wide personal experience, and you always (well, nearly always) sound as if you are enjoying yourself which is very infectious. I admire your ability to laugh at the occasional hiccup. Thank you for your dedication to presenting such fine music for so long - would that you could go on for ever! Now I am going away to cry, bleeaaaargh!
Richard Whetton - Edinburgh
Dear Mel, Driving down to London a few weeks ago I stumbled across your simply superb show. I'm now making full use of the listen again feature to catch the show up here in Edinburgh. Many thanks for such a great show
Dear Mel, I usually listen every Saturday, but tonight is Friday. I am listening because I am going on holiday tomorrow. You have just broken my heart when I just heard you are leaving, you have played several requests for me; mostly for Ella Fitzgerald and Errol Garner. I will sorely miss you you light up my week I have never heard anyone so knowledgeable about jazz before. I hope you are happy from now on and that you have a happy life
Niall in Northern Italy
Hello Mel! It's been well over a year since I contributed to the messageboard. Fatherhood and husband-hood have intervened, but I have always listened regularly via Internet to your show. By now our beautiful 15-month-old daughter May-Linn has a well-tuned ear for jazz, thanks in no small part to the wonderful set of jazz CDs which I was fortunate enough to win in one of your quizzes. Even in her first days of life, when we were sometimes at a loss to know how to make her stop crying, a few bars of jazz from one the CDs often did the trick. (Actually, the Joe Sample CD was particularly effective in this regard…) Anyway, what has prompted me to write, on this balmy Friday late afternoon in Italy, was the shock news that I have been dreading to hear: you have decided to retire from your jazz show. I have no doubt that your replacement will be excellent and I will of course continue to listen in. But I would like to thank you personally for the many hours of pleasure which I have had from your show, and for deepening my appreciation and knowledge of jazz. (I am sure that my daughter would also express her thanks - however unfortunately her powers of speech are being slightly delayed as a result of having to learn both Italian and English). Anyway Mel, heartfelt thanks again for the best music radio show I have ever heard. Bar none. Take care of yourself. Arrivederci
Dear Mel, Just picked this up on the web/internet/whatever - its all too much for me - and right away knew it was something I can love! You're on the "Favourites" right away!
Dear Mr. Hill, Some weeks ago I discovered your program on the internet and since then I listen two or three times a week to your program. Greetings from Leiden, The Netherlands
Hello Mel, What a marvelous thing the internet is. I live in Spain and recently discovered your show. I never miss one now
Hello Mel, I discovered your show online a few months ago and have been listening regularly ever since! I am a great jazz enthusiast and I think your show is great
Listening in from sunny France, jazz playing , nice wine flowing what could be better? A great mix of music this time and some I am even unfamiliar with too which is always a learning curve.. Merci et Sante!