It’s been one year since the Cleveland Smooth Jazz radio station (107.3 The Wave) was programmed out of mainstream radio onto HD radio and the Internet. The change was made in spite of the loyal following of listeners, and now we are forced to listen to our computers when we want to hear Smooth Jazz. This has turned out to be more and more frequent for jazz fans throughout the country over the past couple of years, as stations are rapidly disappearing from radio and are only heard on the web or HD radio, if they’re heard at all. It is clear that the genre of Smooth Jazz has slipped to an endangered species status.
Not long after the transition, Mark Ribbins, the online DJ and Program Director, departed from the station. It was sad to hear that he was gone, but I’m thankful that his changes to the format have remained intact. His tweaks to the programming have made listening more enjoyable than it was before it was relegated to the Net. I listen to The Wave most often during weekdays as background music through my computer. It has been a refreshing addition to my workday routine as the music makes the time pass with a very nice vibe.
Today, the Smooth Jazz fan is relegated to search engines to locate our favorite jazz artists and buy the music in much the same way that we now hear it—online. Today’s demographics have moved the face of radio from Adult Contemporary and Arbitron to People Meters, much to my displeasure. The new methodology behind measuring radio listeners cannot possibly reach a significant number of people who readily support their favorite Smooth Jazz and Urban Contemporary performers. They missed most of us a year ago when my favorite station changed. They’re still missing us, because we’re now mostly underground—online or listening with an iPhone or iPod Touch with wifi—and we’ve worked out the logistics to find and listen to what we want to hear. Call us the tech savvy boomers—the new silent majority. We have evolved as the technology has changed. If our favorite music is not on the radio, we’ll continue to adjust and go where it can be found. A year after Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting forced me to go cold turkey, I’m now doing just fine, for Smooth Jazz lives on.