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Nik Thompson


Music moves me. Music teaches me. Music saves me.
In my mixed-up, confused and wandering life nothing has come close to matching the steady influence that music has had on me throughout.

I’ve gone through all sorts of phases. My priorities change with the seasons. My favorite food today settles blandly on my palate tomorrow. But that music is integral to my being is steadfast, unwavering.

How best to put it? Music, despite its propensity to be eccentric and odd, makes me feel normal. It helps me with my bearings. It keeps me from driving of the road and into a tree.

I’m not trying to be over-the-top here. It is what it is.

And I enjoy all music. I’m an equal opportunity listener. Sometime while I was in high school jazz started affecting me. There isn’t a particular moment to pinpoint, rather it seems as though it happened in a huge, saturating wave. I was left soaking in the music. Years later and I still haven’t dried off.

I remember hearing Horace Silver for the first time on Michael Jewett’s program. It must have been springtime because I recall thinking that Horace’s piano sounded a lot like the summer coming on. I also remember strolling up to Encore Records, in Ann Arbor, later that day to buy all the Horace Silver records I could find. I think I bought a few of Coltrane’s too. And probably a Rahsaan Roland Kirk record. And some Mingus, definitely some Mingus.

Wonderfully, it was only the beginning.

That afternoon was the start of what has become a ten-year (and counting) infatuation with the art of musical improvisation.

It was also the beginning of my devotion and loyalty to public radio, as a listener, contributor, and volunteer.

Working now for WEMU, I put my whole heart into every hour I’m on (or off) the air. My goal is to reach out to jazz’s new fans, while respecting the tastes of the listeners who’ve logged decades loving this music. Whether it’s giving a young man his first taste of Miles, or turning a veteran on to fresh sounds from William Parker, it all comes back to spreading the love for jazz.

In 1999 I began at WEMU hosting Afterhours Jazz & Blues on Monday nights. Since then I’ve been the guest host for just about every program 89.1 broadcasts. After finishing school I began hosting 89.1 Jazz on Saturday mornings, before leaving the station to spend a year teaching English in a (relatively) small town in China. In 2006 I began writing for WEMU’s Blog Jam, a broad discussion post online at

If you’re still curious, I’m an Eastern Michigan University graduate, with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature, History, and Writing. I’ve been married since 2005, and I can’t imagine how I survived beforehand. I love fishing, traveling, following Tiger baseball, reading William Faulkner, changing oil, spacing out to Bob Dylan, napping with Jack Kerouac, going crazy with Federico Fillini, loving my family, and hanging out with the KreWE de MU.