J. Michael Harrison

Jazz Host

Born in Philadelphia within walking distance of Temple University, J. Michael Harrison’s musical open-mindedness was shaped by his older brother John, a guitarist, and his cousin, the drummer Harry “Butch” Reed. In grade school he was listening to Sly, Funkadelic, Miles, Herbie, Monk, Santana, and Coltrane, as well as Iron Butterfly, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and Zappa.

His first show was WPEB’s Is That Jazz in 1993. He met artists from Philadelphia, New York, and beyond as he experimented with progressive, diverse, and adventurous programming. That continued for more than three years, but in 1994 he came to WRTI as a production volunteer. He filled in for Ludwig Van Trikt on Point of Departure, and then in 1996 started his own show, The Bridge, which continues to this day.

The Bridge won Philadelphia Magazine’s "Best Radio Program "award in 2002, and in 2007 Philadelphia City Paper called it the “Best On-Air Reminder That Jazz Didn’t Die in 1965.” The Philadelphia Clef Club made him a Stakeholder in 2016, and in 2017 the Jazz Journalist Association named him a "Jazz Hero."

J. Michael Harrison has taught classes in jazz at Rowan University, The Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, and in the Free Library of Philadelphia. Since 2008 he has taught music journalism at the University of the Arts. He has lectured at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania, has written liner notes, has sat on and moderated numerous panels, has curated series, produced events, and hosted concerts in Philadelphia, NJ, New York City, and New Orleans.  He was executive producer on Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s Brotherzone CD in 1999. He works closely with the Philadelphia Jazz Project. “Music is truly my sanctuary,” he says.

Mike can be heard on Mondays and Tuesday from 9 pm to midnight, and Fridays from 10 pm to 2 am.

Ways to Connect

Join WRTI's J. Michael Harrison on Friday, June 29th at 10 pm as he welcomes NBC10's Byron Scott back to The Bridge to perform his semi-annual duties as guest co-host. Byron has become part of The Bridge's revolving door of guests, and always brings his passion for jazz to the experience. You'll once again benefit from his vast knowledge of music, as well as his motivation to expose you to some of the selections that have a special place in his jazz collection.

Drummer and educator Ralph Peterson, Jr. joins WRTI's J. Michael Harrison on Friday, June 15th at 10 pm for a conversation about his career and his latest recording, The Duality Perspective.

Tonight, host J. Michael Harrison features the tale of Two Dannys and a Francesca. It's an interview with painter Danny Simmons during the 11 pm hour, and then a conversation with jazz pianist Daniel Kramer and singer Francesca Gershwin, grand-niece of George Gershwin. Listen in on a live performance and a chat.

WRTI's J. Michael Harrison interviews composer, arranger, clarinetist, cellist, and jazz pianist Muhal Richard Abrams about his collaboration with Bobby Zankel's Warriors of the Wonderful Sound. The project features work commissioned by Abrams in the "Free Jazz" medium; his work compresses both contemporary and traditional ideas into lean, elegant pieces. You can hear the interview in the video below.