Smooth jazz DJ

Danna Higley

Photo By David Robert

It is another night at work on the swing shift, or perhaps doing homework online, and music vibrates through the radio. Those who are weary of hearing pre-programmed music selections that are often cut short may stop searching the airwaves when they hear jazz being directed by a live disc jockey. The voice of Danna Higley, DJ and president of For The Love of Jazz, seeps coolly between sets for KUNR-FM 88.7, sometimes from the studio or on location during a live jazz performance.

Have you attended college?

I’m still in college, believe it or not. I’m studying linguistics [at the University of Nevada, Reno] and will graduate next year with a bachelor’s degree.

Where are you from?

Elko, originally. We moved to Winnemucca when I was 10. I love Nevada. I’ve lived in other places but always feel like I’m coming home when I come here. We’re really fortunate in Reno. We have a lot of big city things going on here, plus a great landscape.

How long have you been with KUNR?

This is my eighth year, actually. And this is my 20th year in radio. I started at the Columbia School of Broadcasting in Salt Lake City.

What do you think of the local live music scene?

It’s really a pretty good town for live music. There is jazz pretty much every night of the week. But it is also frustrating. Recently, we had the Larry Coryell Trio playing at the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City. [These are] some of the elite of jazz, and the house was just too small. It is hard for big name performers to make much money in a small place. It’s also frustrating to figure out what the jazz audience wants in this area. But I can’t complain. For the size of our city, the jazz scene is really cool. And we have a jazz club, For The Love of Jazz. People can go online and take a survey to help us focus on what sort of jazz they want to hear []. The jazz club has been around since 1974. On [the UNR] campus, there is a great jazz studies program, and the Performing Arts Series. As far as jazz radio goes, our audience is awesome. KUNR has a fund drive coming up in October. It is an odd way to make a budget, but it has worked for years. Jazz fans are especially good at supporting public radio.

What are you currently reading?

A lot of travel books. I’m going to Mexico next week.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

What a question. [This] felt like a job interview for a moment. I don’t know. I would still like to be doing jazz on the radio.

Any deep knowledge you’d like to impart?

Don’t underestimate the power of art to heal.