Lee Thomas 1

Smooth jazz radio host Iceman LT (Lee Thomas) brings a well-rounded history to the internet with Mojito Jazz. Inspired by his love for all sub-genres (lounge, acid, nu, Latin, funk, fusion, West Coast Cool and there’s more), Iceman has an ear for the interesting and evocative. No robo-generated content; Iceman keeps it fresh and exciting. He surpasses his goal to educate the populace with an eclectic variety that’s fed by an ever-increasing curiosity for the jazz realm.

Indies want to get on radio? Contact Iceman LT! 

Have you always been interested in radio?

No, never had plans to do radio, I just love great music.

When did you start as a career?

Officially, I created my station about six years ago but in reality, all the on-camera features and live TV news segments prior to that were a prelude to me performing as an on-air personality. I also acted as a co-host on some live automotive industry/motorsports shows before creating Mojito Jazz.

What is your training?

I am a Renaissance man, a jack-of-all-trades and a master of all. I am self-taught as a concert and event promoter, graphics designer, web designer, nationally published writer and photographer, web designer, on-camera personality, program director, engineer and producer. I had some college but in a totally non-related field (hotel and restaurant management).

Do you play any instruments?

I played trumpet when I was younger…have not picked one up for a while but you never really forget.

When did you start at the station?

About six years ago.

Who are your favorite smooth jazz artists?

Michael Franks, Ken Navarro, Larry Carlton, Oli Silk, Paul Brown, Ragan Whiteside and Peter White.

Favorite musicians in general?

That list can go on forever, you kidding me!  Sarah Vaughan, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Flora Purim, Eliane Elias, Astrud Gilberto, Kenia, Kaori Kobayashi, Hiromi Uehara, Jeff Lorber, Andrea Motis, Anita O Day, Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, Kurt Elling, Stacey Kent, Till Bronner, Vanessa De Mata, Nancy Wilson and Natalie (“The Floacist”) Stewart.

Do you support indie artists on the air?

Yes, I created Mojito Jazz Radio for indie artist. The Muse for the station was an indie artist from San Diego named Kevyn Lettau.  Each week I have a special show feature called “Indie Wednesdie” it’s all indie, all day.

How do you plan your playlist?

For one, I just feel it…I pick up from my listeners. I also just listen to the music and pick songs based on the song that’s playing. I hear a beat, a bass groove, a triangle, a vocal riff. It instantly reminds me of another song with a similar sound or tempo or instrument pattern, then I grab that song. I don’t have an automatic pre-programmed play list.

Must they be based in San Diego to get air play?

No, I play artists from all over the country and the world.  Mojito Jazz started as an international world-wide jazz stream…not a local terrestrial station. I only attached the station to San Diego about two years ago.

How do you learn about new artists?

From lots of sources, NPR, YouTube, friends who love music, publications, social media like Twitter and Facebook. In reality I just pay attention to everything music-related around me, always for the best, fresh new sounds.

How do they get on the air?

They have to have great music…not so-so music… If it’s good, we play it.  If it’s not I will let them know why, so they can make it better…if they don’t, oh well, they don’t have what it takes to be great…. yet!

Do you do interviews, and if so, most memorable?

Yes, but so far have not done a lot…I will be expanding that category of Mojito Jazz in 2018.

Who would you want most to have as a guest on radio?

My favorite artist Michael Franks; Nancy Wilson, also Lady Gaga and Natalie Stewart.

What are some of the challenges of internet radio?

Working through the transition of the medium to a viral source comparable to automobile radio listening.

How is it different from terrestrial radio?

Quality-wise it’s just as good. You can reach far more people and it offers visual elements that terrestrial radio can’t compete with. You can also carry it with you in your pockets, jacket or purse.

How has your industry changed since you’ve been working in radio?

Technology is catching up with faster video streams, better interfaces, more versatility.

Why do you love your job?

Because I love people and music. I love making magic and making a difference.

How did you get your nickname?

Iceman LT…..because I wear cool fedoras, bad-ass shades, I dress cool, I’m cool and I make jazz cool…how else! haha

What are your future plans for the radio show?

Growing my monthly/weekly concert series in connection with the station. Continue to grow my two international stations, Asian Jazz Radio and Jazz Italia Radio, along with further expansion of my Jazz Festival “JazzDiego” to northern California, Los Angeles and Arizona.

What do musicians misunderstand the most about internet radio?

That it’s not the same old terrestrial station standard and guidelines.  Second, they need to be more involved with the broadcasters in order to help build their followers. Third, it takes money to make money almost always, so they need to invest dollars in marketing themselves via internet radio stations.

Have you always lived in San Diego?

No, spent about an equal amount of time in Orange County and several years in L.A.

How does the jazz scene differ in the places you have lived?

L.A. has a lot more history and traditions and its ties directly to Hollywood, the radio and TV industry.  San Diego is a growing market, just now re-emerging, opened up by the likes of event series like my JazzDiego.

Do you think music can bring society together and transcend politics?

Music already transcends politics. I have music artist from all over the world, I have listeners from all over the world. And they all revere American jazz!  It already brings people together; the mainstream media just does not report it because they love divisiveness to sell headlines rather than the more beautiful things of the world and life.

The internet has pretty much replaced them for meeting that task. Just take a look at all the music being shared and artists being exposed via international social media. Music has no boundaries!

For more information and to stream Mojito Jazz, visit www.mojitojazzradio.com/category/stations.

Photos courtesy of and with permission of Lee Thomas. 

© Debbie Burke 2018

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