In Memoriam: DJ Michael G. Nastos

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Nastos was emeritus-senior announcer and producer at WEMU 89.1 FM, holding down the evening slot for nearly 30 years.

(Photo: Michael G. Nastos/Facebook)

Jazz DJ and journalist Michael G. Nastos passed away earlier this month at age 70. Nastos is best known for his work as a radio broadcaster in southeastern Michigan from the early ’70s to the present. His primary outlet was the NPR affiliate WEMU 89.1 FM, where he was emeritus-senior announcer and producer, holding down the full-time evening slot for nearly 30 years, alongside duties as assistant music director and chief librarian.

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Nastos took up piano at age 6 and drums at 7, and played in school marching bands and stage bands, as well as pickup rock and blues groups. A classically trained multi-percussionist, he played various symphonic pieces in small chamber ensembles, and later played with mainstream jazz and fusion bands, and a gamelan orchestra.

Turning his attention away from working as a professional musician, Nastos studied journalism and broadcasting, and made that his livelihood. He wrote extensively for the All Music Guide since its inception in the early ’90s. He published numerous syndicated previews, reviews and opinion columns and worked for 17 years at the Ann Arbor News. Nastos was named one of the top five Midwest critics by readers of the Arts Midwest newsletter in 1988, and #1 jazz critic in the SEMJA Music Poll in 1990. For 10 years, he was Detroit correspondent for DownBeat, and he continued in that role for Cadence magazine starting in 1980.

Nastos contributed to numerous other publications, including Hot House, Coda, Rhapsody.com, L.A. Scene Magazine, Jazz Forum, Swing Journal, Arts Midwest, Jazz News International and the Detroit Metro Times. He also wrote artist biographies, interviews, jazz festival and concert programs, and liner notes. As an instructor and guest lecturer, Nastos taught at the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, local libraries and panel forums at the Detroit International Jazz Festivals.

He was a founding board member and vice president of SEMJA (Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association) and an active participant in ISIM (International Society for Improvised Music). In addition, Nastos was the business manager for the Ann Arbor Musicians Union. For 10 years, he was a panelist and eventually jazz chair for the Michigan Council for the Arts & Cultural Affairs. He served as publicity director worldwide for Karl Berger’s Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York.

As a musician, Nastos worked with keyboardists Stuart Cunningham, Rick Roe and Bill Heid, bassists Rob Crozier, Bruce Dondero and Jaribu Shahid, saxophonists Vincent York and Paul Vornhagen, clarinetist Perry Robinson and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, as well as improvising ensembles Sublingual and Electrosonic. DB



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