Jeff Duperon, a jazz ambassador and WRTI radio host, died on Monday, June 17, 2019, of cancer. He was 66.
Duperon began his radio career at Louisiana’s WWOZ-FM as a morning drive-time announcer. After graduating from Tulane University in 1996, he moved to Philadelphia and immediately became involved with the WRTI jazz scene.
“Jeff was the quintessential jazz ambassador,” WRTI general manager Bill Johnson said in a tribute on the station’s website.
“He was a tireless servant of this music and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for jazz. Whether it was hosting a remote broadcast at a festival, guest-hosting for one of his colleagues, or talking to a group of listeners about who was new on the scene and why it mattered, Jeff made you a believer. He was devoted to the gospel of jazz.”
Duperon became an in-demand WRTI host, eventually producing and hosting a trio of eclectic shows: “In A Mellow Tone,” “Jukebox Jazz” and “Nouveau Jazz Showcase.”
Duperon’s contributions to the music community were acknowledged when he received the 2018 “Philly Celebrates Jazz Award” from the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.
“Jeff was so passionate about the music that he immersed himself in it,” said WRTI jazz music director Maureen Malloy.
“He was a fixture in the Philly Jazz scene, a pillar of WRTI jazz. He was the first one to take new trainees under his wing to show them the ropes and got a chuckle out of throwing them on the air to introduce themselves to the world unexpectedly. He loved nothing more than to share his knowledge of jazz, and did it in a way that only he could.”
In addition to educating the next generation via his jazz studies program for children, Duperon served as the board president of Jazz Bridge, a non-profit organization that provides funding and services to struggling musicians.
He is survived by: his wife, Yvette; children, Jeanette, Nicole Duperon Harper, Jonathan and Valdez Bradley; eight grandchildren; brother, Gregory Duperon; and other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held July 1 at 11 a.m. at Pinn Memorial Baptist Church, 2251 N. 54th St. A traditional New Orleans Jazz Second Line will follow at 12:30 p.m.