Carbondale DJ is always in the swing of things |

Carbondale DJ is always in the swing of things

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” In his 83 years, Art Ackerman has been many different things. He was a child of the depression, a father to five. He has been a husband for six decades. He became a Naval aviator right after World War II and earned his wings before he could ever legally drink a beer. He was in the reserves for 20 years.

He worked for a Detroit company for decades and ended up its president. A retiree since 1983, these days he’s an active Rotary Club member and likes to talk up his group.

Despite all this rich history, though, around these parts, he’s mostly known for three little words.

“Swing, Swing, Swing.”

That’s the name of his weekly radio show, broadcasting from 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays on KDNK. During it, he plays exactly what you’d imagine ” mostly the big, brassy sounds of the 1930s and ’40s.

“It’s the music I grew up with,” he said, obviously enamored. “The big band era was fantastic.”

It would have to be. He’s been revisiting it over the airwaves for 25 years.

When Ackerman started his show, the station was just a kid, only five years old, and was still housed in the Dinkel Building. Ackerman’s not even sure how he jumped on the radio bandwagon, since he had no experience. He doesn’t know how he learned or if he was even nervous in the beginning. All he knows is that now, so many years later, his swing show has a true following. Every week, he sends his playlist out to about 100 people, and he boasts listeners as far away as Pakistan and France.

Not that it surprises him that people love these tunes. He has ever since they came out.

“I like music where you can understand the words, and the words mean something,” he explained. “The words to those songs are romantic during the war years. They illustrate the longing that took place.”

That’s a time he remembers well. Those pieces remind him of his fellow servicemen and his friends, his classmates ” not to mention all those live shows he took in. In and around those years, he saw the shiniest of that era’s musical stars in person.

While he missed his favorite, Glen Miller, he was in the audience for Benny Goodman, Harry James, Jimmy Dorsey and more. In his eyes, they were purveyors of real music, pieces he could internalize and dance to. It wasn’t like some of the melodies of this modern age.

“A lot of the stuff they play today, it isn’t even music,” he proclaimed. “This metal rock, or whatever the hell they call it, it just leaves me cold.”

All the more reason to keep the tunes he cares for alive.

Though he knows he’s playing some of the same songs he did back in 1989, 1993 or 2004, they still feel fresh to him. He never gets tired of them. He likes the journey back in time, and he takes it extremely seriously. Unlike most DJs, he makes sure to introduce each song before he plays it and dresses it up with an anecdote or little piece of history. He tapes each show, as well, and when he plays it back to himself later, he analyzes the tone of his voice, the volume of songs and how the whole thing flows together. After a quarter of a century, he’s not about to let the show’s quality slide.

“Sometimes, sometimes I’m flawless,” he said, “but seldom.”

So, each week, he keeps striving to perfect his on-air sound. He tries to create just the right mix of happy and sad bits, songs that make him and fellow big band lovers long for days past. At the end of each show, he always leaves his audience with a promise of much more music to come.

“I’ll be back next Tuesday,” he likes to say, “So if you want to turn me on, tune me in.”

And so many do.

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