Since the age of 13, radio and jazz have been the only things I've been interested in radio. - Ron Cuzner
Cuzner was 64. He had a long history of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. When his wife, Janet Cuzner, returned to their Brown Deer home late Thursday afternoon, she found her husband unresponsive on a couch where he had been sitting that morning.
His long career in Milwaukee radio officially ended in January 2002, when he finally hung up his headphones and ended a gig on WJZI-FM (93.3).
For those who love jazz, Cuzner was the reigning king, though often one in search of a kingdom on the radio dial.
"He certainly was a pioneer," said Howard Austin, a noted Milwaukee radio jazz disc jockey himself.
Over the years, Cuzner remained true to pure jazz, Austin said, calling his friend's death a major loss for the local jazz scene.
Cuzner's shows "maintained the integrity of the music itself," Austin said. "There was none of that pop-crossover stuff. It was a respite from fusion and garbage (jazz stations) began pushing."
His shows - virtually always called Ron Cuzner's the Dark Side, for the dark of the night - remained among the most distinctive on the Milwaukee dial.
The list of stations that Cuzner called home read like a bowl of alphabet soup, albeit heavy on the W's - among them WBZN-FM, WUWM-FM, WYMS-FM, WKLH-FM, WLUM-FM, the old WTOS-FM and WMGF-FM, WOKY-AM, WTMJ-AM and, of course, WFMR-FM.
All Cuzner ever wanted was the freedom to play his jazz, without a programmer determining his playlist. His collection of 20,000 albums was inspiration enough.
"There were no playlists," Cuzner once recalled fondly. "Each jock played what he wanted."
He was born Ronald Graham Cuzner to Ethel and Frederick Cuzner, growing up in Racine. He discovered radio at 10, first dreaming of being an actor.
Then came jazz.
"He had heard Basie as a young person and Ellington and latched onto the music," Janet Cuzner said. "He explored it further and further and shared that knowledge with others."
Created own persona
For Cuzner, jazz might as well have been the air he breathed. The boy who wanted to act ended up creating a radio persona of his very own, named to the "WAMI Hall of Fame" by the Wisconsin Area Music Industry last April.
"Since the age of 13, radio and jazz have been the only things I've been interested in," Cuzner said in 1987, as he returned to radio at WTMJ. "For me, being taken off the radio was like taking a carpenter's hands away."
Cuzner graduated from Racine Lutheran High School and worked at several factory jobs before coming to Milwaukee to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the early 1960s, his wife said.
While taking communications courses, Cuzner worked as a counselor at a local Boys Club. In 1968, he moved from public radio to his first job in commercial radio at the old WTOS-FM station.
Those who loved the music reveled in the master's knowledge of his subject.
"If Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player in the world, Ron Cuzner is the greatest jazz aficionado," said Journal Sentinel president and publisher Keith Spore, who got to know Cuzner while writing a jazz column.
Cuzner was, he said, an encyclopedia of jazz.
"You could ask him the most obscure question, and he would know it," Spore said. "It would be right off the top of his head. He could tell you the date, the label and every musician who played. He was the greatest. We would talk every couple of months. I never knew anyone who knew as much as he did about a narrow field."
One of a kind
"With his omnipresent caps, his slow drawl and his deep love for jazz, Ron Cuzner was sui generis, one of a kind," said Mike Drew, a jazz fan and columnist for the Journal Sentinel.
"His contribution to young listeners' taste, and knowledge of the music and, indeed, to the survival of jazz here was prodigious," he said. "And no one in America had a hipper record collection."
Columnist Bill Janz called Cuzner "our guru of the cool, our maharishi of the hip."
Playing station politics, however, was never cool to Cuzner. When it came to reading news from the world of sports, the details were always decidedly sparse. Cuzner never mentioned scores, sometimes not even the team names.
"In baseball, Baltimore defeated New York. . . . Chicago defeated Los Angeles," he would say. Or maybe just: "There were many football games Friday night . . . some teams were victorious. . . . Others were not."
For Cuzner, if it wasn't jazz, why would anyone care?
We'll close this tribute with Cuzner's own warm wishes from The Dark Side he loved to share with his listeners.
"I sincerely hope you are warm tonight. . . . I sincerely hope you are together tonight . . . and I sincerely hope your cookie jar is filled to the very brim . . . with the cookies of your choice, of course."
Brasília (AFP) - Venezuela's fugitive former top prosecutor resurfaced in Brazil on Wednesday claiming to possess "a lot" of proof of President Nicolas Maduro's corruption and warning that her life remains in danger. Days after a dramatic escape from chaotic Venezuela, Luisa Ortega, 59, turned up the heat on Maduro, who has asked Interpol to issue a "red notice" warrant for the arrest of his critic. Ortega -- speaking at a crime-fighting conference in the Brazilian capital with representatives from the Latin American regional trading alliance Mercosur -- said Maduro enriched himself in a massive corruption scheme uncovered at Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht.
The mystery of how the crew of one of the world’s first submarines died has finally been solved - they accidentally killed themselves. The HL Hunley sank on February 17 1864 after torpedoing the USS Housatonic outside Charleston Harbour, South Carolina, during American Civil War. She was one of the first submarines ever to be used in conflict, and the first to sink a battleship. It was assumed the blast had ruptured the sub, drowning its occupants, but when the Hunley was raised in 2000, salvage experts were amazed to find the eight-man crew poised as if they had been caught completely unawares by the tragedy. All were still sitting in their posts and there was no evidence that they had attempted to flee the foundering vessel. The submarine being raised in 2000 Credit: US Navy Now researchers at Duke University believe they have the answer. Three years of experiments on a mini-test sub have shown that the torpedo blast would have created a shockwave great enough to instantly rupture the blood vessels in the lungs and brains of the submariners. "This is the characteristic trauma of blast victims, they call it 'blast lung,'" Dr Rachel Lance. “You have an instant fatality that leaves no marks on the skeletal remains. Unfortunately, the soft tissues that would show us what happened have decomposed in the past hundred years.” The Hunley's torpedo was not a self-propelled bomb, but a copper keg of 135 pounds of gunpowder held ahead and slightly below the Hunley's bow on a 16-foot pole called a spar The sub rammed this spar into the enemy ship's hull and the bomb exploded. The furthest any of the crew was from the blast was about 42 feet. The shockwave of the blast travelled about 1500 meters per second in water, and 340 m/sec in air, the researchers calculate. The bodies of the crew were found sitting in their positions around the central crankshaft which made the submarine move Credit: Reuters While a normal blast shockwave travelling in air should last less than 10 milliseconds, Lance calculated that the Hunley crew's lungs were subjected to 60 milliseconds or more of trauma. "That creates kind of a worst case scenario for the lungs," added Dr Lance. “Shear forces would tear apart the delicate structures where the blood supply meets the air supply, filling the lungs with blood and killing the crew instantly. “It's likely they also suffered traumatic brain injuries from being so close to such a large blast. "All the physical evidence points to the crew taking absolutely no action in response to a flood or loss of air. If anyone had survived, they may have tried to release the keel ballast weights, set the bilge pumps to pump water, or tried to get out the hatches, but none of these actions were taken.” A painting of the HL Hunley Credit: Conrad Wise Chapman The fate of the crew of the 40-foot Hunley remained a mystery until 1995, when the submarine was discovered about 300 meters away from the Housatonic's resting place. Raised in 2000, the submarine is currently undergoing study and conservation in Charleston by a team of Clemson University scientists. Initially, the discovery of the submarine only seemed to deepen the mystery. The crewmen's skeletons were found still at their stations along a hand-crank that drove the cigar-shaped craft. They suffered no broken bones, the bilge pumps had not been used and the air hatches were closed. Except for a hole in one conning tower and a small window that may have been broken, the sub was remarkably intact. Speculation about their deaths has included suffocation and drowning. The new study involved repeatedly setting blasts near a scale model, shooting authentic weapons at historically accurate iron plate and calculating human respiration and the transmission of blast energy. The research was published in PLOS ONE.