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Joe Mosbrook
Jazzed about Cleveland

Joe Mosbrook was born in Wilmington, Delaware. You probably remember him for the 35 years he spent broadcasting both radio and television news.

He began his broadcasting career while majoring in English at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Joe Mosbrook working the board in the early days

Joe Mosbrook working the board in the early days

His first radio broadcasts on the college station were jazz shows. While still a student at Lafayette, he began his professional broadcasting career at the NBC radio station in Easton. He later worked at stations in North Carolina, Wilmington and Philadelphia.

Joe started his broadcasting career in 1953, in radio. In the early years he even did sports play-by-play announcing.

He first came to Cleveland in 1967 while working for NBC. He spent the next 35 years as a reporter with Channel 3, the NBC affiliate here. "Not an Investigative reporter - that's redundant. All reporters should be investigators" Joe has appeared on NBC's Today Show and a number of nightly news broadcasts.

Joe Mosbrook doing interview for WKYC

Joe Mosbrook reporting for WKYC

In addition to a Distinguished Service Award from the Society o Professional Journalists Joe has also received several TV Emmy's and has been inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' prestigious Silver Circle for more than 25 years of outstanding service to Cleveland television.

He was anchoring for an NBC radio network on June 5, 1968 when Bobby Kennedy died. Senator Kennedy had been shot the night before and Mosbrook and every other reporter was called to go to Los Angeles immediately. He was doing hourly updates for NBC and was on the air when the announcement of Kennedy's death came.

He was not at Kent State that fateful May 4, 1970, but he later covered the trail. He spoke to one of the jurors who said he had been physically attacked. This interview led to an appeal and a second trial, which resulted in a settlement for the families. He's interviewed many of the Presidents and would-be presidents. He's interview Jeffrey Lundrgen, infamous for the Kirtland Cult Killings.

Joe Mosbrook doing a live shot

He spent most of his years covering politics and the legal/judicial stories. He covered city hall when Carl Stokes, Dennis Kucinich, George Voinovich and Ralph Perk were still there.

He had an opportunity to go to NBC network television instead of local. He knew how much travel was involved and he knew how many people wound up divorced. He decided that Cleveland was a good place to live and raise a family and that he wanted to stay right here.

Joe Mosbrook at WKYC TV3

He fondly remembers working with people like Virgil Dominic, Doug Adair, Wally Kinan and Jim Grainer.

Short video of Joe Mosbrook explaining the
1981 Newshawk 3 Helicopter crash

But Joe's passion is not just the news. Even as a very young man Joe was interested in Jazz. As a teenager he would buy antique jazz on the old 78-rpm vinyl records while his all of his friends bought pop music. Of course he visited the jazz Clubs at Lafayette.

It was not easy - he was not surrounded by jazz, he had to seek it out. But he always found it. "I was not a child to visit museums and the like. For me it was always jazz."

The original train sign from Take the A Train

The original train sign from "Take the A Train"

In the mid eighties he realized what a rich history of jazz there was in Cleveland, but little or none of it was recorded. He began writing articles on jazz just as a pastime.

WCPN radio asked him to create radio versions of these article to be put on the air. He wrote one a week for sixteen years - over 800 programs! The features include excerpts of recorded oral history interviews he has conducted with dozens of Cleveland jazz musicians.

That led to the first book he wrote in 1993, Cleveland Jazz History.

Joe Mosbrook Cleveland Jazz book cover

It was the first attempt to chronicle Cleveland jazz history in book form. He was also asked to write the local jazz section for the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History as well as Internet versions of the local jazz features for the "Cleveland, the New American City" web site. The vastly expanded second edition of his Cleveland Jazz History book was published by the Jazz Society in 2003.

"There's a lot of good jazz in town now. There's Nightown on the East Side and Bop Stop on the West Side." The Bop Stop was one of the few clubs that were built from the ground up specifically and solely for jazz.

Joe Mosbrook Jazz collection

Some of Joe's jazz collection

Joe is a past board member and vice president of the Jazz Society and is currently the editor of their newsletter. He is a board member for the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra who as he says "Is a heck of a good band." They've been favorably reviewed internationally, but Joe says, "not enough people in their own back yard know that." They have put out three albums that can be purchased on their website or by contacting the Orchestra at 440-942-9525.

Joe Mosbrook Jazz collection

More of Joe Mosbrook's jazz collection

Joe can't quite pick a favorite Jazz musician "It changes every day." He likes a lot of the older traditional jazz, like Count Basie, Duke Ellington and J.J. Johnson, but he also likes a lot of the newer musicians, including Cleveland's own Joe Lovano.

"Ken Peplowski is one of the greatest jazz musicians in the world. He has been compared to Benny Goodman. He's from right here in Garfield Heights - started out in a polka band in polka varieties. But most Clevelanders don't know who he is."

Joe Mosbrook Jazz collection

More of Joe Mosbrook's memorabilia

Jazz was mainstream in the 30's and 40's and has been "out of vogue" since then. Joe sees a subtle movement in the air to bring jazz back to the glory days it deserves. He looks at singers like Harry Connick Jr. and Diana Krall as evidence of the movement.

When asked to define jazz, Joe is at a loss. "You can't really define it. I'd have to quote Louis Armstrong who said that Jazz is 'the way I think a tune ought to go'."

Joe Mosbrook's Channel 3 WKYC microphone

When Joe left TV broadcasting he thought retirement was going to be easy. But in addition to his writing and radio broadcasts, he is also the President of the Broadcasters Union, which has about 500 members in the Cleveland area. No wonder he doesn't have time to golf or sail - two more of his favorite pastimes.

Joe Mosbrook and wife Elaine

Joe Mosbrook and wife Elaine

Joe lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife Elaine and his dog, Zeus. They have four adult children all of whom live in the Greater Cleveland area.

It is a lucky thing for Cleveland that Joe has taken such an interest in our jazz history. Otherwise we would have lost these incredible tales of jazz and its roots, right here in our city.

Joe Mosbrook in home studio

Joe Mosbrook in his home studio
As the old saying goes, he has forgotten more than most of us will ever know. Thankfully he has chronicled the saga so that no one will ever disregard this amazing part of our history.

Profiled by Debbie Hanson

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