It’s another Tuesday afternoon, and that means University of Dayton students, along with devoted followers, have their radio dials locked onto the college station WUDR 98.1/99.5 FM and Flyer Radio online. Between the hours of 3-6pm in the WUDR Studios at ArtStreet on the University of Dayton, the animated and jovial voice of Art Jipson (aka his radio persona Dr. J) graces the airwaves as they spin music from local and national bands and artists. Jipson wears multiple hats in his role with the university-Director of Criminal Justice Studies Program, professor, coordinator of the Self and Community in the 21st Century Learning and Living Community.
However-the show, titled “Your Tuesday Afternoon Alternative”, offers much more than most imagine. Ten years later, the show continues to be one of the premier staples that features music to the community.
The love for music began for Jipson when he was growing up in the western central part of Minnesota. His folks were heavy into music from all corners. Jipson’s father was a fan of country and Elvis, while his mom was a Californian who adored The Byrds, early Linda Ronstadt. In his teens, he was listening to music what he called “terrible pop radio”, and was wanting more. One day, Jipson’s wish came true. “I am listening to the worst of the 70s music, and my cousin Steve introduces me to Kiss’ Alive, and I am changed. Another cousin introduces me to Iggy and the Stooges. It’s all gone from there,” he added.
Jipson began to dig deeper and deeper in different genres. Jipson recalls collecting albums from Television, Patty Smith. He talked about diving into punk rock, and getting in trouble in school because of it. Due to where he was living at the time, Jipson says that he had to travel farther than most to catch live music. “When I wanted to go see shows, I had to drive 3 and a half hours to get to Minneapolis. I would drive 3 or 4 hours to see The Replacements, and wait in line.” Jipson’s passion for music allowed him to discover more than he could ever imagine.
In 1988, Jipson received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Anthropology, and Political Science from the University of Minnesota. He also received his Masters and Doctorate degrees in Sociology, Criminology, and Social Theory from Bowling Green State University. When he was at BGSU, Jipson was the last grad student to study with Ron Denisoff, who wrote the definitive autobiography on Waylon Jennings, which was published in the 80s. Denisoff was among the first generation of sociologists who took music seriously as part of culture, not just musicology alone.
In 2001, Jipson arrived at the University of Dayton after teaching in Miami University for several years. One of the goals he wanted to achieve when he arrived on campus was to connect to the city. He started doing projects where his students would work with various schools and literacy programs in Dayton. He created a pop culture class that is now in the Sociology department. “We talk about the history of popular music,” Jipson says when describing what the class entails. “I take them back to the 1910s, and work my way from turn of the century all the way up to the present. It’s a fun class, and we all learn from each other.”
With only so much that Jipson could do within the class with the sociology of popular music and culture, he wanted to do more. He envisioned what he could do to have his students understand more about the depth of music, and even more so that is being made in their backyard. It was then that Jipson began his weekly radio show, which debuted in November 2004.
When you sit down with Jipson, you immediately see that his excitement that comes off on-air isn’t something that is produced or fake. There is no possibility that it can be. When you listen to him talk, you get just as excited about the topic you are discussing. Jipson comes off as a real life John Keating from the movie Dead Poets Society. You could only imagine the methods that Jipson uses to reach his students. Encouraging them to seize life, and become enchanted with the city that they are living in.
The show has grown over the years. During the early days, the show was called “School of Rock with Dr. J”. Jipson centered the show with a focus on connections with music and bands. He incorporated some musicology, sociology, and psychology. After a couple of years, Jipson’s wife, Tracey (aka to listeners as Mrs. Dr. J), joined the show full-time after she was mostly calling in and suggest music. The format also was modified. The music that is played on the show started to shift towards mostly local music around that year, with also playing music regionally and nationally, ranging from new to older songs.
Ten years have magically come and gone, and there are no plans for Art and Tracey to slow down. They are hoping to eventually have the show more accessible after the original airing. For now, they will continue to come to the airwaves every Tuesday, and provide all of their listeners with great music, CD reviews, upcoming show announcements, interviews, and so much more. Lessons are being taught to all of us, indirectly.
There is not a doubt that we are all standing on our tables in unison, staring straight down at Art Jipson, Dayton’s own music professor.
One by one, we say to him, “O Captain, my Captain”.