By Gilbert Garcia
Today is Aaron Prado’s last day at KRTU, and the SA jazz community will surely feel the loss.
As KRTU music director and host of the station’s daily “Lunch Feature,” Prado has always seemed equal parts radio personality and jazz scholar: someone who could break down the contours of a masterful Ben Webster solo or the historical significance of a particular Sarah Vaughan vocal.
So it’s fitting that the DJ/pianist is leaving San Antonio to do graduate work in NYU’s jazz-studies program. The move coincidentally comes at roughly the same time that popular afternoon DJ Matt Fleeger bolted for Portland, Oregon to become the supervisor of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s jazz station, KMHD. Fleeger left for Portland on Monday, July 13, and he starts work at his new job on Monday. “He’s going to turn that station into KRTU,” Prado says with a laugh, adding that there’s talk of an informal sister-station arrangement that might involve an occasional one-week DJ-exchange arrangement.
Prado’s encyclopedic grasp of the jazz canon elevated an already fine station into a model of its form. He says that from the moment he took over the station’s programming six-and-a-half years ago, he knew that he would one day leave to further his studies. (He hopes to eventually return to Trinity in a teaching capacity.)
“I remember when I first got started with this job, I thought, ‘This is great. I’ll probably stay a year,’ he says. “Then after a year, I was like, ‘Well, we need to really get this thing off the ground. I’ll stay one more year.’ It wasn’t like I always had one foot out the door, but I was kind of always looking to that next thing, and then all of a sudden, we really took off and I thought, ‘I can’t leave now.’"
As Prado approached his 30th birthday (which he celebrated at a July 15 farewell reception thrown for him by KRTU staffers), he sensed that the time had come to do graduate work.
“One of the reasons that I felt like I could leave at this particular moment is we hired [morning DJ] Alfredo Cruz, who’s been on the air in New York and LA, at some of the biggest jazz stations in the world,” Prado says. “He came on initially as a station manager and he gave me some ideas early on about how we could improve and be a little bit more like some the New York and LA stations.
“It became clear that if I stepped out and he stepped in, we wouldn’t miss a beat, because we share a lot of the same ideas about jazz and the quality of the presentation. So we’ve been sitting down and talking and basically the idea is, ‘Don’t change a thing.’”