How WDCB 90.9 FM Finds Jazz from a Chicago Point of View

Dan Bindert and Paul Abella from COD’s radio station WDCB 90.9 FM share insights of the station.


Eva Koureta, Staff Writer

The WDCB Radio Station is located at COD. With 15 full-time employees alongside community volunteers and students, WDCB (90.9 FM)offers listeners a variety of jazz music. The station has been broadcasting for 45 years with up to 200,000 listeners on a regular basis.

Paul Abella, the music director of the radio station, started as a student aid in December of 1995. As a jazz fan, Abella applied for a student aid position at the station because of a bet with a friend.

“I got the job, and I won the bet,” said Abella.

He started his radio career by filing records and doing menial tasks when the music director at the time saw his talent and love for the job and offered him the position.

“He thought that I had a good voice for the radio. At first, I had the overnight shifts. He trained me, showed me how to use all the equipment, and when my shift was over, he would give me tips on what was good or bad. After two weeks he set me loose,” said Abella.

Abella has been a full-time employee at the WDCB station since the early 2000s.

“My love for music started when my parents brought home a copy of ABBA’s greatest hits, and that was the music that resonated with me. I was listening to it non-stop. However, it wasn’t until I was 18-years-old when I realized that music was important to me,” said Abella.

As a music director at a radio station, his responsibilities are to listen to all the new music that comes out and to distribute it to people who need it.

“At WDCB we have a jazz program, but we also have shows that are dedicated to modern music, shows that like to hyper-focus on modern jazz singers that lean more towards the cabaret era. In my responsibilities, there is some gatekeeping as well. It is my job to listen, especially the songs that are objectively bad, and keep those out of the way. Also, make value judgments. For example, what is good for the radio, or what the listeners are interested in. There are numerous famous jazz singers from Chicago. Chicago is home to jazz. So that adds a lot to our station. As I call it jazz from Chicago’s point of view.”

According to the music director, the most exciting and thrilling part of his job is the interaction with the people.

“When I hear, ‘You turned me into a jazz fan,’ that warms my heart,” said Abella. “What makes this station unique is the fact that we are the only jazz station in Chicago. It is great that we have COD as a home for our radio station. Having people who are passionate about the job creates an amazing environment.”

Dan Bindert, manager of WDCB, explains that there is a lack of COD students’ involvement in the station due to COVID-19. However, there will be at least one student aid position available this spring. The station has had clerical workers and many volunteers throughout the years.

Paul Abella is on-air Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. He also has a syndicated show that airs on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. called “Notes from the Jazz Underground”.

Make sure to check out Courier’s interview with the manager of the radio station Dan Bindert.

For more information on WDCB Radio Station visit: