Requiem for a format

Admittedly, that’s a tad misleading, since the format isn’t actually dead. On the other hand, it seems like every year a commercial station that used to play classical music starts playing something else.

In Milwaukee, that “something else” is ersatz jazz:

In the city of Milwaukee’s second radio format change in a week, WFMR-FM (106.9) is dumping classical music in favor of the “smooth jazz” that WJZI-FM (93.3) dropped last week.

The move marks a return to the smooth jazz format that the station now known as WFMR said it pioneered in the mid-1990s. The station hit the air in 1995 with a playlist that included David Sanborn, George Benson, Kenny G and Al Jarreau, all of whom will be featured again at the station.

This is news you wouldn’t even tell Tchaikovsky.

Two observations:

  • “Smooth jazz” is neither smooth nor jazz.
  • A 2 rating evidently isn’t enough to sustain a format anymore. And the top-rated commercial classical station in a major market — KDFC in San Francisco — pulls around a 3.5.

I should note that there was a brief period when you could tune in “smooth jazz” in Oklahoma City; it was on my first group of presets at the time, although I reserved the right to push the next button at the first sign of the strangled-duck noises made by Kenny G. I wouldn’t mind if it returned, subject to the same provisions. And anyway, our classical station, noncommercial as it is, isn’t going anywhere.

(Via triticale.)


  1. Scooby214 »

    1 July 2007 · 6:19 pm

    I miss smooth jazz on 97.7 (or 97.9 when it moved). I am thankful that we have sufficient classical choices available, between KCSC, KGOU/KROU, and KOSU.

  2. Brian J. »

    2 July 2007 · 12:18 pm

    One unremarked consequence of allowing owners to own more radio stations within a marketplace is how easily they change formats to outflank Emmis/Clear Channel/Infinity stations playing similar music.

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