Remarkably, even as he maintains a successful performing and recording career, Sidran has also amassed an impressive array of credits in production and composition for radio, television and film.
Ben's multi-media career started back in Madison in 1973, as host and producer for the local late-nighter, “The Weekend Starts Now.” In 1975-76, Sidran was artistic director for jazz programming for the groundbreaking Soundstage on Chicago's WTTW.
From 1981 to 1983, he was host and artistic director for the Peabody Award-winning “Jazz Alive,” on National Public Radio, featuring weekly national live jazz performances. At the same time, he was producing “The Jazz Life,” a Laserdisc series of six one-hour performance videos featuring Art Blakey with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Johnny Griffin, and others.
Throughout the eighties, Sidran continued his multi-multi-media ways, as a contributor to “All Things Considered,” on NPR; music director for the Cinemax “Sass & Brass” special featuring Sarah Vaughan with Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, and others; and as host/ producer for “Sidran on Record,” back on NPR with weekly interviews of jazz personalities (Winner, International Radio Festival Award, 1986). A collection of 43 of those interviews, Talking Jazz:An Oral History, is still in print from Da Capo Press.
Sidran broke new ground bringing jazz to commercial television in 1988 as host of “New Visions” on VH-1, combining long-form interviews and live performances. Winner of the 1989 ACE Award for “Best Cable Music Series,” it ran through 1991.
In 1993, Ben again showed his extraordinary range, serving as music producer both for “Diana Ross Live: The Lady Sings … Jazz and Blues,” a live pay-per-view concert, and for “Higher Goals,” for PBS, a National Daytime Emmy nominee for outstanding children's special (for which he also composed).
The next year, Ben hit the big screen in a big way, as composer and music producer for “Hoop Dreams,” the gripping documentary of two young Chicago basketball players that won the 1994 Sundance Audience Award and New York Film Critics Award.
He served in that same capacity for “Vietnam: Long Time Coming,” with similar success (Winner 1998 Aspen Film Festival, Emmy Award, Director's Guild of America Award).
Ben went back to radio and NPR from 1996-1999, as a producer on “Jazz Profiles,” weekly biographies of major jazz figures. In 2004, Sidran reunited with the team behind “Hoop Dreams,” composing (with son Leo) the original score for the award winning documentary "With All Deliberate Speed,” on the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education.