Smooth Jazz Radio

AM Matt

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Back in the early & mid 70's, I was listening to the Detroit Tigers on WJR in Detroit (760 AM). I posted this before BUT what was the instrumental (during commercial breaks) that WJR played that had a flute playing in the middle of the song?? First off it went wah wah wah wah (which sounds like the 1979 song "Still" by The Commodores) like an organ at the beginning of the song. Then I heard like ping ping ping ping & so on. Then the flute is playing. The song is not "K-Jee" by The Niteliters (from 1971 on RCA Records), it was the other instrumental song. I checked on both Hubert Laws & Herbie Mann but I don't think that is either one. Back in 1994, the station WCZY (COZY FM 104.3) in Mount Pleasant, Michigan played the song & there was an announcer that said the song & the artist that started back in May of 1994 BUT that station back in early July of 1994 switched from smooth jazz fusion or New Age & became an Adult Contemporary station & I never heard that instrumental again since!!
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Back in the early & mid 70's, I was listening to the Detroit Tigers on WJR in Detroit (760 AM). I posted this before BUT what was the instrumental (during commercial breaks) that WJR played that had a flute playing in the middle of the song?? First off it went wah wah wah wah (which sounds like the 1979 song "Still" by The Commodores) like an organ at the beginning of the song. Then I heard like ping ping ping ping & so on. Then the flute is playing. The song is not "K-Jee" by The Niteliters (from 1971 on RCA Records), it was the other instrumental song. I checked on both Hubert Laws & Herbie Mann but I don't think that is either one. Back in 1994, the station WCZY (COZY FM 104.3) in Mount Pleasant, Michigan played the song & there was an announcer that said the song & the artist that started back in May of 1994 BUT that station back in early July of 1994 switched from smooth jazz fusion or New Age & became an Adult Contemporary station & I never heard that instrumental again since!!
It was that same period where I lived one of my favorite stations in a nearby city started transitioning from Easy Listening to Smooth jazz in 1991 then by late 94 early 95 they became soft adult Contemporary or in their words "Continuous Soft Hits" and All instrumental formats on the radio in the Inland pacific Northwest were pretty much Gone it was a very sad time
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
It was that same period where I lived one of my favorite stations in a nearby city started transitioning from Easy Listening to Smooth jazz in 1991 then by late 94 early 95 they became soft adult Contemporary or in their words "Continuous Soft Hits" and All instrumental formats on the radio in the Inland pacific Northwest were pretty much Gone it was a very sad time
The trouble with Smooth Jazz as a format was the resistance of younger listeners to instrumentals. The format began in 1987 as music for 35-year-old women. By the mid-90s, they found the only way they could expand the library was by adding R&B oldies (Al Green, Marvin Gaye) to the mix. Several stations (largely in markets where R&B underperformed or there was already a dominant station playing that music) bailed for straight AC ("Continuous Soft Hits") while others tried to ride it out with just the instrumentals---meaning by 2007, it was music for 55-year-old women. And that being one year older than the key sales demographic, killed the format.

The best transition out of it was the format's originator, KTWV, Los Angeles, which did adopt the R&B oldies and gradually morphed from Smooth Jazz to Rhythmic AC. It's consistently a top 5 station in the L.A. ratings and has been #2 for at least the past four months.
 

Harry

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Greater Media in Philly, where I worked, tried a Smooth Jazz format when they purchased a rimshot FM station (97.5) based in New Jersey. It was a close-enough signal that they could identify as Philadelphia, as long as they also mentioned Burlington, NJ, the true city of license. Back in the 90s, the Smooth Jazz station called itself WJJZ and was on 106.1. It fell on hard times and had abandoned Smooth Jazz, which left a bit of a format hole in the market. Greater Media figured it might have some success bringing back WJJZ as the call letters, rehired a bunch of the DJs, and had a couple of years of some success. Ultimately, it closed down and switched to a simulcast of the AM sports/talk station where it remains today.

As part of the "spoils", I grabbed a few of their sampler CDs that they produced for their listeners. I seem to still have three of them, all identical, and all still sealed in shrink wrap. (I think I left them sealed because there's a Kenny G track that I didn't want to pollute the rest of my collection...)

Anyway, these CDs were mass-produced for all manner of stations, each one had its own station identifiers printed on the artwork. It appears that this particular CD had been originated in San Francisco in 2006. By 2007, it showed up in Sacramento. Here's the track list. You can see the infusion of vocals in these releases, common for the format at that time.

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And in 2008, our Philly station released it in conjunction with the 2008 Philadelphia Flower Show.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Greater Media in Philly, where I worked, tried a Smooth Jazz format when they purchased a rimshot FM station (97.5) based in New Jersey. It was a close-enough signal that they could identify as Philadelphia, as long as they also mentioned Burlington, NJ, the true city of license. Back in the 90s, the Smooth Jazz station called itself WJJZ and was on 106.1. It fell on hard times and had abandoned Smooth Jazz, which left a bit of a format hole in the market. Greater Media figured it might have some success bringing back WJJZ as the call letters, rehired a bunch of the DJs, and had a couple of years of some success. Ultimately, it closed down and switched to a simulcast of the AM sports/talk station where it remains today.

As part of the "spoils", I grabbed a few of their sampler CDs that they produced for their listeners. I seem to still have three of them, all identical, and all still sealed in shrink wrap. (I think I left them sealed because there's a Kenny G track that I didn't want to pollute the rest of my collection...)

Anyway, these CDs were mass-produced for all manner of stations, each one had its own station identifiers printed on the artwork. It appears that this particular CD had been originated in San Francisco in 2006. By 2007, it showed up in Sacramento. Here's the track list. You can see the infusion of vocals in these releases, common for the format at that time.

View attachment 6207
And in 2008, our Philly station released it in conjunction with the 2008 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Six degrees of smooth jazz....94.7 KSSJ was huge in Sacramento when smooth jazz was. It's now an alternative station (KKDO) that has been largely jockless until recently, and it does pretty well in the ratings.

In 2015, a former sales manager at Entercom (which owns 94.7) became the Market President at iHeart in Sacramento, where I worked from November of 2013 until January of this year. One of her big ideas was to bring back "Smooth Jazz Sacramento". She hired one of the legacy personalities from the original station, Linda Clayton (who was also in Phoenix for a while when I was there) to do voice tracks and they put it on a translator at 107.1. Not a full-market signal, but one that has good coverage in neighborhoods where the demographics were favorable.

They promoted it. There was a whole lot of "Oh wow! Thank you for bringing back my favorite radio station!"

And ZERO ratings.

At the end of a year, they blew it up and replaced it with Classic Rock. And two years after that, with Country.
 

Rudy

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Our $mooth Jazz station got shoved onto an HD radio side-channel. I'm actually still surprised they are around. But one office I worked at used it as background music (prior to HD Radio), so maybe that's why it still hangs onto some thread of popularity. (Only, I don't know of any offices that would be HD Radio equipped.)
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
Our $mooth Jazz station got shoved onto an HD radio side-channel. I'm actually still surprised they are around. But one office I worked at used it as background music (prior to HD Radio), so maybe that's why it still hangs onto some thread of popularity. (Only, I don't know of any offices that would be HD Radio equipped.)
Most radio stations shove some old formats into their HD Channels but sadly Knowing how HD hasn't quite replaced regular radio yet it may have mixed results in my opinion but in my case I have many Smooth jazz classics in my library and the radio station I do my shows on Still have all their vinyl and CDs ( including what became smooth jazz new age etc) and I'm glad I've been keeping it going along with playing other varieties of genres thats the beauty of being one of the last free-form stations in the northwest I had a few phone calls from some listeners who had my show playing at their work " I considered that compliment"
 

lj

Well-Known Member
I am sure mainstream jazz musicians and their fans don't regret the demise of smooth jazz, as they always considered it to be fake jazz.
 

Rudy

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I am sure mainstream jazz musicians and their fans don't regret the demise of smooth jazz, as they always considered it to be fake jazz.
What I think I disliked wasn't the music, but marketing it as some form of "jazz" when it was really pop instrumental music, with occasional soft soul/R&B vocals along with it. In essence, it was the modern equivalent of "easy listening" stations that were traditionally all string-based cover versions of tunes we knew. Something you could play as background music in many settings without ruffling many feathers.
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
What I think I disliked wasn't the music, but marketing it as some form of "jazz" when it was really pop instrumental music, with occasional soft soul/R&B vocals along with it. In essence, it was the modern equivalent of "easy listening" stations that were traditionally all string-based cover versions of tunes we knew. Something you could play as background music in many settings without ruffling many feathers.
I didn't care for the marketing aspect of any particular format but I liked the music more than any thing else regardless of what they called it to me I've been drawn to predominantly instrumental radio formats most of my life ( and as I mentioned elsewhere) many years after they disappeared from radio many of the custom recordings they played that were never released became available for purchase for those of us who still love them and have missed hearing them even some of the obscure smooth jazz artists whose labels folded between the late 80s and early 90s had their albums reissued for downloading I can name a couple of Examples Keyboard artist Steve Bach's 1990 album "Holiday" which featured the often played track "Sunshine" and Another Keyboard artist Tim Heintz albums on the TBA label my favorite album is called "Searching the heart " which has a few beautiful covers such as EL Debarge's "Someone" And Stevie Wonder's "Whereabouts" Again Just a couple examples your mileage may vary
What I think I disliked wasn't the music, but marketing it as some form of "jazz" when it was really pop instrumental music, with occasional soft soul/R&B vocals along with it. In essence, it was the modern equivalent of "easy listening" stations that were traditionally all string-based cover versions of tunes we knew. Something you could play as background music in many settings without ruffling many
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
I am sure mainstream jazz musicians and their fans don't regret the demise of smooth jazz, as they always considered it to be fake jazz.
Personally, I never liked it: seemed like endless grooves to vacuum to, copulate to, lay vinyl flooring to...and the nondescript happy saxophone aspect was annoying from a soloist point of view. As a player it seemed limiting given it required the bassist and drummer to lock into a pattern -- and purposely harnessing musicians' creativity runs counter to what jazz is about... I agree with Rudy: that stuff was simply instrumental pop music.
 

Moritat

Well-Known Member
Smooth jazz all sounds the same to me. First it starts with lush synth sounds and a drum machine. Then add some lethargic predictability, and there you have it. As mentioned earlier. it's much more pop instrumental than jazz. Someone once referred to it as "jazz with training wheels". Whatever it is, It certainly is not for me.
 

Mr Bill

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Mr Bill

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I was actually trying to find the cover of an old L.A. Weekly from 1985 or 86 that featured a cartoon of a man wearing a Walkman saying, "Man, this New Age Music is sooooo good!" while his girlfriend in the background -- with a horrified look on her face -- is saying, "But Bob, there's no tape in your walkman!"
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
...an old Far Side from the '80s...

I particularly like the rainbows and flowers in the LP covers and that all four speakers are switched ON as if to heighten the punishment...all the while Satan is casually reading the liner notes: If you like this album here are other releases you are sure to enjoy...😵

parker.jpg
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
...an old Far Side from the '80s...

I particularly like the rainbows and flowers in the LP covers and that all four speakers are switched ON as if to heighten the punishment...all the while Satan is casually reading the liner notes: If you like this album here are other releases you are sure to enjoy...😵

parker.jpg
I loved The Far Side I think it was accurate in its depictions of Hell and it always had a bit of irony and coincidence
 
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