Hazel the Delta Rambler

Hazel the Delta Rambler with her husband Larry, live on WWOZ in New Orleans
Hazel the Delta Rambler with her husband Larry, live on WWOZ in New Orleans

When I lived in New Orleans, I was lucky enough to befriend a program host on community radio, Hazel the Delta Rambler, a.k.a. Hazel Schlueter.

During my first weekend of being a medical student, I was checking out the left end of the FM dial and heard Uncle Dave Macon singing. What was he doing on the radio? I called into the radio station to find out what was going on. Hazel answered the phone. I said I was new in town and played clawhammer banjo. Hazel said, “Clawhammer banjo!” Then I told her I was a medical student at Tulane. “Tulane!” She took down my phone number and said that she would call me the next time they had a pickin’ party over her house. I thought to myself there was no way in heck this person on the radio was going to call me. But she did. Two weeks later.

Twelve years after graduating from medical school and sixteen years after meeting Hazel, I still call in to WWOZ 90.7 FM almost every Sunday between the hours of 11 am and 1 pm (NYC time) during her old-time, country and bluegrass show. I have listened weekly over the internet since I moved away in June of 1999. In addition to music from familiar and unfamiliar musicians from the present to the past, piles of wisdom, and in studio performances, I excitedly await annual shows like variations on the Eighth of January, Amelia Earhart songs near the Fourth, “summer crazies” anytime after, and election songs (every other year).

If I have any success in piquing your interest in Hazel, your love of WWOZ programmers may grow like mine has. There’s Charles Laborde, and Gentilly Jr., and Brother Jesse, and Billy Delle and…