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Jazz Radio Host Tom Hampson Has Died

A fixture in local radio and jazz programming has died.

Tom Hampson loved jazz since he was a teenager, and he kept that passion even after he chose the law as a career, becoming an attorney specializing in corporate law. He also hosted a weekly jazz show on WXXI for more than 30 years; it was originally called Mostly Jazz, and most recently has been known as Jazz from the Cellar.

He died this week at the age of 87, but had been recording the show in his home studio until just the last several weeks.

Tom spoke about the longevity of his show earlier this year.

Well, it seems unlikely but it’s true. Here I am about to begin my 57th year of playing jazz on the radio in Rochester. And during that time one of my principal roles has been as a cheerleader of many of the vibrant jazz players in Rochester. And as I say it’s been my privilege to provide air time for some of them.”

Former WXXI program manager and current host on Classical 91.5, Marianne Carberry  says Hampson was just a great guy to work with.

“He was just such a total gentleman and so generous with his time and with his knowledge and you just had a sense of his passion for jazz. He always just took that extra time to answer your questions or share his enthusiasm.”

Hampson knew and interviewed a whole host of both local and internationally famous musicians, including the jazz pianist Marian McPartland, who he also did legal work for, as well as the composer Alec Wilder.

There is no  funeral planned, but his family says there will be a memorial service for him sometime early next year. 

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.