Meet the Press

RIT’s Trefzger jazzed up for music, sports and news

Ed Trefzger
(Photo courtesy of RIT Athletics)

Two reasons compelled Ed Trefzger to attend the 2010 Frozen Four in Detroit. Obviously, being the Rochester Institute of Technology men’s hockey team’s radio announcer was one. The Tigers had just made an improbable run to the NCAA semifinals in only their fifth Division I campaign.

But Trefzger also checked out the Detroit Jazz Festival, a convenient commute from the Frozen Four at Ford Field.

“I may have been the only person there who wanted to attend both overlapping events,” he admitted in a recent interview with Pucks and Recreation.  

Trefzger’s passion for jazz music coincided with his love for hockey, but his journey in radio broadcasting was a long road.

“When I started at RIT, I was interested in news,” he reflected. “I had wanted to work at the student weekly magazine, but the editor turned me away.”

This setback did not deter Trefzger from continuing his passion for journalism. He saw an ad for news people at RIT’s student radio station at the end of the 1979-80 school year and decided to get involved.

“I was the station manager by the time it carried hockey in the 1982-83 season,” he said. “Coincidentally, they ended up winning the Division II title in 1983.”

Trefzger saw the Tigers capture another hockey title in 1985 while they participated in Division III. The middle tier had disappeared in 1984, with all surviving programs moving up or down a level.

While Trefzger’s passion for hockey slowly blossomed, he also nurtured his love for jazz music starting near the end of the 1990s.

“During that time, myself and a partner were working on an Internet development company as well as a jazz station in Rochester,” he said. “My business partner had gone to a conference and, in 1996, we started a mailing list for jazz performers with 30 subscribers.”

Ed Trefzger

Trefzger interviews singer Catherine Russell at the 2010 Rochester International Jazz Festival (Photo courtesy of Ed Trefzger)

In 2001, Trefzger attended the annual gathering for the now-defunct International Association for Jazz Education in New York. At that conference, rumors circulated that the time-honored Gavin Report was going under. For many years, the San Francisco-based trade industry publication’s top-40 listings was a programmers’ bible for selecting content.

Beginning on July 13, 2001, Trefzger laid the groundwork for a new weekly jazz airplay chart. With this chart, a new organization helmed by Trefzger called JazzWeek was born.

As the co-founder and with his experience in editing and publishing, Trefzger expanded JazzWeek’s operations to include an annual summit of radio DJs, artists, promoters and labels.

“Beginning in 2002, this conference has been held in Rochester, Syracuse, Detroit and San Jose,” he noted. “Before we decide on a city to host the conference, we have often attended the prospective city’s jazz festival.”

Now, in its 15th year, the Jazz Week Summit has occurred yearly with the exception of 2006. It began with roughly 30 attendees, and now expects 85 participants in 2018.

Most summits have taken place in Western New York. But Trefzger saw a need to incorporate the rest of the country. That explains why San Jose has become a popular site for the conference. In fact, this August, it will make its fifth appearance in the Bay Area.

“While we were in Detroit in 2012, one of the directors of the San Jose Jazz Festival approached us and was both accommodating and supportive,” Trefzger recalled. 

According to Trefzger, there a few objectives of hosting a yearly Jazz Week Summit.

“First, we want to share and learn best practices in radio, programming, fundraising and make sure we are up-to-speed on technology, social media and email marketing.

“Second, we seek to focus on digital media rather than rely on CDs. Finally, we want to stay up-to-date on current trends in the jazz industry.”

Ed Trefzger

As a first-year president of Dansville Media, Trefzger handles many leadership duties at the WDNY radio station. Here he is installing a studio-to-transmitter link receiving antenna for WDNY-FM. (Photo by Brian McGlynn)

Balancing two jobs seems arduous enough, but Trefzger does not stop there. Besides running JazzWeek and announcing the Tigers, he wears a two-billed hat for U.S. College Hockey Online (USCHO). He serves as the site’s technology director and has hosted a radio call-in show.

He is also the CEO of Trefzger Media LLC, which provides web development and social-media consulting for companies and online publishers. Finally, this past September, he became the president of Dansville Media, Inc., which operates two stations in suburban Rochester.

While these duties keep Trefzger occupied, he has enjoyed the opportunities they have provided. His enjoyment of both music and hockey have not wavered since his career began.

“The Frozen Four was a big deal for RIT,” reflected Trefzger on his favorite moment in his 39-year career working for RIT. “But I would have to say that the best moment for me was beating Denver and New Hampshire the week before,”

“That game against UNH was a mixture of disbelief and excitement. We were on the balcony near the thousand fans, the band and the VP of Student Affairs. Once the game ended, the place exploded. That was definitely the highlight for me.”

As for music, while the Dansville Media website proclaims the ‘70s as one of the best eras. But Trefzger has no reservations pointing out his own favorite musicians and eras.

“One of the greatest jazz eras was 1959,” he said. “In that year, Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck were the most influential. I have an affinity for that era, but perhaps the most talented jazz musicians are living right now.”

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