Cleveland’s Smooth FM 107.3 The Wave – New (And Better Than Before)

01/31/2012 § 2 Comments

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.

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Happy New Year! Cleveland’s 107.3 The Wave Returns 01.04.2012

12/27/2011 § 3 Comments

Now that the buzz and the dust has settled after Rubber City Radio Group, Inc. purchased WNWV 107.3 FM from Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting Co., the station that is once again referred to as 107.3 The Wave and 107.3 HD2 The Wave returns with fresh new smooth formats on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.  For one who has closely followed The Wave and its Smooth Jazz format, the day cannot come soon enough!  For two years since The Wave was moved to HD radio and online, I was relegated to listening over the internet and also with my iPhone and iPod Touch (with wifi) through the WunderRadio app when I was not at work.

When you listen today online or to the radio, you will hear Christmas/holiday music 24/7 with a smooth jazz feel (with the exception of the occasional Cheech & Chong classic “Santa Claus and His Old Lady” or John Denver and the Muppets’ version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”).  The holiday tunes continue until the 4th when the new format debuts at midnight.

From what we can see from looking at the new website, 107.3 The Wave will be known as Cleveland’s Smooth FM, and will take on a Smooth AC (Smooth Adult Contemporary) format, which is the morphing of the old smooth jazz format into a modernized combination of smooth jazz vocalists, urban contemporary/R&B vocalists, and fewer jazz instrumentals in the playlist.  Smooth AC appeals to a younger demographic (25-54) and is intended to complement the “mature” demographic of smooth jazz listeners.  With this change, the Smooth AC format has become more popular in recent years in several large markets while smooth jazz has slid off the radar and onto HD radio, including Cleveland.  Since Smooth AC is brand new here, we will soon hear how it will distinguish itself from WNWV’s old smooth jazz format.  While the old format was mostly enjoyable, it was distinctly different from other smooth jazz stations around the country.  At times, the “old Wave” mimicked a jazzy Adult Contemporary format, and it could have used more frequent injections to the playlist to freshen it up.

The other discovery with the new format change is that the 107.3 HD2 channel will continue to be a “smooth jazz” format.  The logo for the HD2 channel is actually a freshening of the old Wave logo with the added name “The Wave Classics.”  If you are longing for the good ‘ol days of smooth jazz, the HD2 channel will satisfy your craving (and those jazz instrumentals from artists that you have missed, such as Boney James and Norman Brown).  We will now have two smooth radio choices, which is a welcome surprise.  If you don’t have HD radio, you can still listen online, but its getting to a point where the HD radio is a must when you finally decide to upgrade your car stereo equipment–HD radio is still free and provides many more stations as an alternative to playing your iPod in the car.

With respect to those persons who enjoyed the AAA format at 107.3 Cleveland, I hope that you will find a station that has a similar appeal where you can latch on.  It’s never pleasant to see a station change its formats, and for those of us who lost The Wave two years ago, we understand how unpleasant it is.   The good news is that there are many options available, including a myriad of free online sources that can pick up where broadcast radio leaves off.  What I hope that true music lovers–even a critic from Scene Magazine–can appreciate is that there are many different places where you can listen to rock or alternative rock, but there are noticeably fewer choices for smooth jazz lovers.  Those of us who listen to smooth jazz are extremely loyal, and it is no coincidence that The Wave was a successful radio program for two decades.  I’m glad that it’s back, and I look forward to another long and successful run with Rubber City Radio.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.

Is 107.3 The Wave Returning To Cleveland?

12/08/2011 § 10 Comments

I have been following Smooth Jazz 107.3 The Wave ever since it left the main airwaves and was pushed to online and HD2 radio.  This has forced many of us who loved the format to seek alternative methods of get our fill of jazz.  I listen online every day at work and buy product on iTunes when it is available.  To the credit of the persons running The Wave’s HD2 format, they did not abandon the programming–in fact, they did a decent job of injecting some new material, although there were many occasions when the online transmission seemed to rotate the same songs on the playlist rather quickly.  Beggars for smooth jazz here in Cleveland can’t be choosers.

Now, after noting that Akron’s Rubber City Radio group just bought AAA format WNWV V107.3 from Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting, there is a glimmer of hope that a newer form of smooth jazz–now branded as “smooth adult contemporary”–will be returning to the airwaves!  The information is still coming in, but here is a link to RadioInsight.com article:

Is The Wave Returning To Cleveland?

Truthfully, the AAA format at Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting was not doing well, and it looks like its demise is eminent this month.  While I have nothing against the AAA format, it lacks identity when compared to the dozens of choices available of alternative rock on the radio and online, while smooth adult contemporary radio seems to be catching on as a “souped up” mix of jazz and urban contemporary.  There are presently no choices like this in the Cleveland/Akron market today, but people like me will go and find it, even if it is imperfect as the present incarnation of The Wave is now (today it is playing Christmas music, which was reassuring in that someone must be still doing some programming).

For more information on the “new” Wave, stay tuned, everyone!

107.3 HD2 The Wave Smooth Jazz Update (Summer 2011)

08/22/2011 § Leave a comment

It’s been a little while since I wrote about our last connection with Smooth Jazz radio in the Cleveland market, WNWV 107.3 HD2 radio, which is not to be confused with the current V107.3 FM station that plays AAA music (adult album alternative) and classic rock.  For those of us who still have not purchased an HD radio (I suspect that’s many of us), you can still listen to The Wave via the internet at their website, http://wnwv.northcoastnow.com/listen-live/ or with the WunderRadio app for your iPhone or iPod Touch (via WiFi connection).

The good news is that The Wave is still around to listen to.  It’s actually been over a year and a half since the change from FM to HD2 on December 28, 2009.  Since then, there have been many instances throughout the country where the Smooth Jazz format has disappeared from the FM band and relegated, if at all, to HD radio formats.  Thankfully, there are many more available iTunes apps that can play internet radio or actual radio stations to find Smooth Jazz at your convenience.  There are still enough of them to choose from, including Sky.FM internet radio that features a 24/7 Smooth Jazz station, or the offerings through WunderRadio, Pocket Tunes, or iHeart Radio.  You can also still listen to Smooth Jazz on the internet through your computer, which is, by far, my best option.  It’s on at work every day as background music.

The bad news is more in the quality of the audio stream for The Wave.  It has been very spotty recently.  I run it on my Windows XP computer during the day at work and I often find myself having to refresh the browser because the stream either stops playing or never completely loads in the player on the website.  There is advertising on the site, which is not as annoying as it was at one time, but the ads occasionally seem to hamper the stream or the actual loading of the stream.  One day, I was so frustrated with the poor connectivity of the site that I sent an email to the station.  That same day, the station GM acknowledged the problem and apologized, and stated that they were working on it.  Since that time, their media player on the site was updated at least a couple of times, but it is still very buggy.

As much as I have wanted to switch off to another station because of the frequent problems, I remain loyal to The Wave because I have been listening to it from its early FM days through now.  There are no on-air DJs–only music.  You will only hear the voice of Mike Kessler (now Mike Gallagher on V107.3) every hour for station identification.  Mike was the last morning DJ while The Wave was still on FM after the departure of Tom Murphy.  I miss the voices of Murphy, Richard Greer, Starr (overnight), Carmen Kennedy, Michelle Chase, and Mark Ribbins, who managed to stay with the HD2 format after the change for a little while.

Many of the songs that were requested as part of the station’s playlist remain intact, and it is hoped that someone at The Wave will continue to be open for suggestions and add more songs, and pay close attention to the operation of the website.  I’m trying to hang in there with it, but it’s been tough when the music stops playing.  Smooth Jazz also has an ongoing challenge in the creativity of new music and appealing to a wider audience.  As many things appear to run in cycles, my hope is that Smooth Jazz will maintain its loyal following and continue to grow with another wave of great new music.  If you love Smooth Jazz, keep listening and buying the music to support it.

107.3 HD2 The Wave Smooth Jazz Update

03/19/2011 § Leave a comment

Smooth Jazz in Cleveland is still an option for those of us who are disappointed with the latest radio options available to us.  Since the lovers of the Smooth Jazz format were scorned by the new People Meter rating system (which refused to count us, in my opinion), we have been relegated to listening online at the station’s website, http://wnwv.northcoastnow.com/listen-live/ or with the WunderRadio app available for your iPhone or iPod Touch (with WiFi), or with an HD radio (which is still way too expensive).

Listening online is still the best option in that you can merely go to the website and let it play for as long as you’re on the computer.  It works well as background music while at work.  There may be an issue, however, with the quality of the stream as it gets interrupted often on a Windows computer and Internet Explorer (unless someone else has had a better experience), and while there have been moments of good feeds, overall it has been buggy.  There are no known issues going through my Mac computer and Firefox at my residence.  There were issues earlier this year where the advertising on the site was loud and interrupted the broadcast without warning, but that has since been corrected.  The great thing about the online broadcast is that there is a lot of continuous music and not many commercials.

The WunderRadio app seems to be the best app available for your iPhone or iPod Touch to listen to online radio now (it has a modest price of $6.99, but it is considerably more comprehensive in the number of stations available).  Pocket Tunes does not seem to work anymore for some stations the way it used to.  WunderRadio pulls in The Wave just fine.  It is my alternate method of listening when the work computer stream is not working well.

If the HD radio ever comes down in price, I will consider getting one, but with the available options to listen to Smooth Jazz at this time, as well as other radio feeds through iTunes and other outlets, I will keep up the effort to enjoy my favorite music and look forward to the day when Smooth Jazz returns to mainstream radio.

Listening to Smooth Jazz 107.3 HD2 (The Wave)

01/09/2010 § 1 Comment

When I had learned that my favorite 24-hour radio station for about 20 years, 107.3 The Wave (Cleveland, Ohio) was obliterated by a programming change during the Christmas holiday season, I was stunned.  It was changing to something that resembled Alternative Classic Rock (or whatever they called it).  I was caught off guard and did not see it coming.  And so it is with programming changes…they are rarely expected and usually are unwelcome changes for the stations that you faithfully listen to.  Who told the station management that my favorite music was less and less popular?  Thanks a lot, Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting.  My Wave was blown up by The Boom! Explosions seldom are welcome, and so was this change.  Very strange.

After an initial frantic search for information as to what had happened to The Wave, I realized that it was not gone completely (to my delight), but it was now much more difficult to since it was now relegated to the 107.3 HD2 channel or to listening online (with no radio personalities, by the way).  It is uncertain how long this change will last, or, for that matter, how long the smooth jazz format nationwide will survive.  Stations with this format are rapidly disappearing from commercial radio.  After all, most radio executives believe that the smooth jazz format is for “older folks” age 50 and over.  We apparently no longer appeal to radio advertisers.  That’s nonsense.  I believe that most of us would support advertising if the advertising was worth supporting.  Over the last year, The Wave was running mindless spots of at least three or four different debt relief companies, a solution to clear up acne on your skin (so different that it was given away in VIP gift bags at international film festivals…whoopee), even John Commuta’s transforming-debt-to-wealth program…all of their ads seemed to have toll-free numbers to call…you get the idea.  Put products on the air that people may really be interested in, and you might get more interest…and listeners.  From the station’s approach to sales and advertising on The Wave, they gave up on the smooth jazz format a long time ago.

The transition of The Wave over the holidays was choppy.  The internet signal was off and on…at first mostly off.  It has finally stabilized and, with the unique perspective of no commercial interruptions, it is enjoyable to listen to at stretches of time.  Some of the tracks are a little repetitive right now, but there have been promises of bringing in more selections.  I do, however, miss the morning drive traffic and news and all of the personalities.  Old habits die hard.  The good news is that former afternoon personality Mark Ribbins is the new Wave’s program director.  The music is in good hands.

Anyway, if you want to listen to The Wave, you will either need to listen online through their website at wnwv.com or with an HD radio signal.  iPhone users can listen through their phone with the application Pocket Tunes wherever they go.  You can do the same thing with a 2nd or 3rd generation iPod Touch with an active wifi signal.  I also learned that you can access the station’s HD signal with the link http://cmn-ice.spacialnet.com/wnwv.m3u.  It will open in iTunes or with QuickTime, or even in your browser.  You can also get an HD radio (which is pricey) or an internet radio receiver (which is really pricey).

While this makes regular listening (all day) rather difficult, you can still plug in to some pretty smooth music with internet access.  My challenge to The New Wave is to expand their playlist beyond where it was and really stretch to areas that can make it even more special and enjoyable to listen to.  Now that the constraints of mainstream radio have been removed, its challenge will be to continue to drive people to seek it out and find it.  I definitely want to see it succeed; as a result, I’ll be listening when and where I can.

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