Howard Mandel is a writer, multimedia producer, and president of the Jazz Journalists Association. But he’s also much more than that. Jazz writer Jordannah Elizabeth asked me to interview Howard because of his long history in the jazz world, and his bio is indeed an incredible one. (I’d highly suggest reading our full interview to get the scope of his career.) In short, he’s been working in and around jazz for the past four decades.
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
OK, you asked for it: I always loved stories, movies and reading—as did my Dad. My family read the Chicago Daily News, watched news on TV, and listened to Cubs baseball games on radio. I was struck they described physical events happening in real time so you could imagine them. I remember hearing some shows like “The Lone Ranger” on radio, too, and loved Dr. Seuss’s “Gerald McBoing-Boing.” (“He didn’t say words, he went ‘boing-boing’ instead.)
Growing up on the South Side of Chicago I was exposed to a lot of Black music via local radio and the sounds being in the air. My kindergarten was integrated, despite a sharp division between white and black (also Jewish and Irish-Catholic) residential parts of the neighborhood. I heard Black music and jazz on local radio and in the air. We went out to ethnic restaurants, so I took multiculturalism for granted, and when I realized it wasn’t universal I thought it was a pre-eminent personal and American goal.