The return of Cleveland’s Smooth FM – 107.3 The Wave (WNWV) is in full swing, and it has been a pleasant listening experience since it’s launch on January 4. I missed the Smooth Jazz format from the “Old Wave” when it was pulled in favor of the alternative (AAA) format in December 2009. The Smooth Jazz format never completely disappeared (it moved to WNWV 107.3’s HD2 radio channel and was streamed online), but the migration of the format to HD2 radio mirrored many other Smooth Jazz stations across the country. Smooth Jazz is still popular, but its appeal is less friendly to mainstream radio as it appeals to an older demographic (the over 50 crowd). Upon WNWV’s purchase from Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting by Rubber City Radio Group of Akron in December 2011, it was immediately announced that the station would be changed to the modern “Smooth AC (Adult Contemporary)” format, which appeals to the key 25-54 age demographic best suited for mainstream radio. The Wave just started running short television spots this week. Here is the promo.
There has not been a recent update as to the status of the station’s HD2 channel, but the last report was that it was broadcasting a Smooth Jazz format; however, the Wave has pulled all references to the Wave Classics HD2 channel from its website, including its logo. While the main HD channel is streaming live online, the HD2 channel’s online streaming is presently unavailable.
What is the Smooth AC format and how does it sound when compared to the Smooth Jazz format? The difference is evident if you like vocal artists. Smooth AC is dominated by vocal artists singing a variety of smooth pop songs, jazz and R&B music, with a peppering of instrumental jazz approximately 3-4 times per hour of airplay. The Wave playlist, as a result, is larger and more versatile than the original Wave jazz playlist. A sampling of Smooth AC music can be found online on the website and also on the Smooth AC Radio Network website, where The Wave pulls much of the Smooth AC network format on evenings and weekends. There is, however, a full slate of local personalities during the key weekday daytime hours that keep the station from sounding like a network feed, which is very refreshing (and reassuring) to hear. I find myself diving in and out all day long while at work, in the car, and at home, and the music sounds fantastic every time I tune in.
As time goes on, I look forward to the ongoing development of the station’s playlist and tweaking of the format to keep it fresh and appealing. I’m listening every day (even to who is sponsoring radio time), and it’s great to have The Wave back.