Sunday morning begins at 4 a.m. for Dave Kish. He brews a cup of tea, does some preparatory work at home and then heads to the deejay booth at mvyradio. At 6 a.m. his voice, along with his extensive jazz collection, heads out over the airwaves for all the early risers and no-sleepers tuned into his show Sunday Morning & All That Jazz.

The music Mr. Kish plays is from his personal collection, one that spans generations, countries and styles. In the deejay booth, Mr. Kish’s movements are deft and decisive as he listens to one song, preps for the next one, and keeps an ear out for quality.

Mr. Kish was an early music lover; he learned to read from record labels. — Mark Lovewell

“There’s no time to be indecisive in the cockpit,” he said on a recent Sunday morning, a pair of huge headphones clamped around his ears.

The four hours Mr. Kish is in the cockpit fly by for him. Broken into three blocks, he plans out his show the week prior, with two instrumental blocks and one vocal block. But true to jazz, improvisation is key.

“I change my mind a lot with the show. I can have a whole show done and the weather can change, or just the mood of the Island can change, or someone important passes away and you have to scramble at the last minute to put together a dedication or memorial to them.”

Mr. Kish has been working at the radio station for 18 years and living on the Island year-round for 25 years. Before hosting the MVY jazz show, he emceed a jazz program and deejayed between sets at Wintertide Coffeehouse, a cafe at Five Corners that held open mic nights and hosted live music in the 1990s. People began to associate him with jazz. But his devotion to music goes far beyond his adult years.

Mr. Kish said his mind is always on the listeners, as much as on the music. — Mark Lovewell

As a toddler, he began his music education by stealing records from his siblings’ collections. The youngest of four, he pillaged from multiple collections. He learned to read from record labels — Motown, his dad’s collection of swing, anything he could find. He was open to as many types of music as possible, taping songs and programs from the radio so he could listen to them over and over again. His father played drums and was a Methodist preacher.

“Being a Methodist minister and Methodist congregation, there was always a lot of singing going on and that worked its way into our day-to-day lives,” Mr. Kish said of his father’s influence.

At Emerson College, he majored in radio, where his education in jazz began. He took a course on jazz appreciation and history, and worked at In Your Ear Records, a used-record shop in Boston.

“I worked with a lot of crazy people who were from places like Berklee College of Music, just insane, really serious, pretty elitist musical people and when you work with people and they are playing things around you all day, you get sucked into that vortex.”

He flourished in that vortex, reading blogs and magazines, listening to other radio programs. The advent of internet was both a blessing and a curse in the search for music, he said. Elusive albums became instantly more accessible, but with the deluge of new music came an ever-expanding wish list as well. But there is a perk to being on air. Every week Mr. Kish receives a stack of new CDs from artists hoping to be featured.

“The hardest thing is to sift out the best new music,” he said.

To create the weekly show, Mr. Kish starts early in the week by picking out a core group of songs from his collection and then builds the show around them.

“As a musician or radio person, you learn to put music together that make sense,“ he said. “You can put any two songs together back to back, how you program the music with those keys, there’s a whole art to it and it’s actually very mathematical, it makes a difference in terms of how the listener hears it.”

With a brain that is simultaneously musical and mathematical, Mr. Kish works as an accountant during the week. To build his personal collection, he monitors eBay and keeps up with magazines, blogs and other programs, but personal connections are the most helpful resource in tracking down elusive records.

“Sometimes you have to reach out to a musician,” he said. For example, he was looking for records by Australian pianist Mike Nock from the 1960s, but most of Mr. Nock’s music wasn’t available outside Australia.

“I finally had to reach out to him, and he was kind enough to make me a CDR of those recordings, that he dubbed from his own personal vinyl and sent over to me, free of charge.”

After the program each week, Mr. Kish emails about 60 people a list of what he played. He said it keeps people involved and the conversation flowing.

Some pieces in his collection are so rare and expensive he won’t play them at the station. Keeping a record in good condition means careful playing, and a groggy mind on a early Sunday morning increases the chance of a slip of the hand when placing the needle. Beyond that, Mr. Kish structures the show for people listening, not just his personal mood. He has pieces in his personal collection that are too avant-garde for a Sunday morning show, but jazz refuses to be contained in a rigid box.

“You have to have that fine line between doing music you personally enjoy and you think is significant and not just pandering to the lowest common denominator of what you think other people will like, playing it safe,” he said.

Sitting in the studio, speaking into the microphone, Mr. Kish said his mind is always on the listeners as much as it is on the music.

“Who’s up listening? Is it the people at the hospital? The guy just off work? People getting ready for church? My mother was 90 when she passed, she never missed my shows. She listened every week.”

Catch Mr. Kish’s show Sunday mornings from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on 88.7 FM mvyradio. Listen live or find show archives at