Rhonda Hamilton

Host, Mid-day Jazz

One of Rhonda’s cherished childhood memories is waking up on Saturday mornings to the sounds of Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole and other jazz greats as her father played his favorite records. By the time she was a teenager, she began amassing her own collection.

Rhonda left her native New York to attend Boston University’s College of Communication and also studied at the Actor’s Studio in Boston. When she began her career in radio as a jazz announcer/producer and later music director at WBUR-FM, Boston, she took every opportunity to immerse herself in the history of the music and hone her skills as an interviewer.

Returning to the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area in March 1979, Rhonda came to WBGO at the station’s inception and has played a key role in making Jazz 88.3FM one of the finest and most listened to jazz stations in the world. In 2001 Rhonda helped to inaugurate the jazz programming on Sirius Satellite Radio. Since 1980, she has had a regular presence on NPR as the voice of numerous nationally syndicated programs including JazzSet and NPR’s annual New Year’s Eve broadcast, Toast of the Nation-Coast to Coast. She’s been honored by the Jazz Journalists Association and has received two consecutive New York Jazz Awards for Best Jazz DJ “in appreciation of a major contribution to the cultural life of our region.” Among other honors, Ms. Hamilton is also a recipient of The Ladies in Jazz Award from the Mayor of NYC and the Harlem Chamber of Commerce. Jazz is Rhonda’s first love, but her other passion is golf.

Ways to Connect

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

It has been my pleasure to host the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition every year since its inception in 2012. It’s always a thrill to see young vocalists inspired by The Divine One, and eager to further her legacy.

And the winner of the 2017 Sassy Award — announced on Sunday night at NJPAC as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival — is Quiana Lynell, who showed some range in her material, and engaged the audience with her stage presence.

Isaiah McClain / WBGO

Pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias is known around the world for combining her love of jazz with the music of her native Brazil. She recently visited our studio with her husband, bassist Marc Johnson, to talk about her engagement this weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and reminisce about her journey in music.


Rhonda Hamilton with Makoto Ozone
Isaiah McClain/WBGO

Makoto Ozone’s wizardry on the piano has made him a star not only in his native Japan but around the world. 

He taught himself to play the organ when he was just a toddler and then as a preteen, switched to the piano after hearing Oscar Peterson in concert. Ozone has spent his life mastering jazz and classical music, and he’ll demonstrate his proficiency in both with a performance Tuesday night at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, followed by concerts Thursday through Saturday at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall with the New York Philharmonic.