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.
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.
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.
12/13/2010 § 1 Comment
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.
11/14/2010 § Leave a comment
A day after hearing that Joseph Beth Booksellers filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and that they would be closing a number of their stores by mid-December, I visited the Legacy Village store in Beachwood (near Cleveland), Ohio. The store is one of the more esthetically beautiful bookstores that you will ever visit. It has an open, airy feel with the mezzanine level looking out over the first floor, and the natural light from the windows of the south entrance flowing through the large room decorated much like a country home living room. There is also a cafe and free wifi, which is also a staple of the other larger bookstore chains. Joseph Beth, however, is a much smaller bookstore chain than the Big Two, all of whom have seen their own share of struggles to remain competitive in the age of Amazon, and now ebooks and iPads. With JB’s bankruptcy filing, it will soon be closing half of its existing stores, and it’s a real shame. I was mildly surprised to see the large number of customers in the store due to the news that the store would close soon. Hindsight being 20/20, it made me wonder if there could have been a difference if more people had consistently patronized the bookstore. To be honest, probably not.
The brick and mortar stores, like Joseph Beth, are slowly fading away due to the stiff, and sometimes crippling competition, of companies such as Amazon.com and even eBay, where you can easily search for and find new or sometimes used books and music for much less than items in the store (and sometimes the store items require a special order). The music section profitability with is being squeezed by iTunes convenience and more Amazon. The convenience of internet shopping has also had an adverse effect on floor traffic and store dollars spent per customer. For the most part, these stores have done just about everything that they can to remain relevant. You can only do so much, however, to control inventory and prices. Too little inventory will drive a customer to the internet. Too much inventory will squeeze tight profit margins away. As internet shopping increases every year, these stores must also be more internet friendly to their customers and use both in-store and online purchases to maintain profitability.
Bookstores has evolved over the years from the small, quiet street shops where you could browse for titles in quaint, narrow isles of bookcases to the larger boxes in enclosed malls to today’s version of the book superstore with music, magazines, gifts, and a coffee shop under one roof. Today’s stores are the most user-friendly for this generation of book lovers. They are geared for both the traditional hard cover readers as well as the younger ebook readers, and almost everyone who patronizes these stores will take advantage of their late hours or use of the wifi in the coffee shop to do research or web surf. They’re even a great place to meet someone for the first time. For me, the bookstore is a place of refuge and even nostalgia. It really is a place where time can stand still, at least for a little while, and where you can enjoy the experience. There is nothing that can replace the experience of sitting in a comfortable chair reading one of your favorite books, or sitting at a cafe with the sound of a cappuccino machine in the background as you browse over a few travel books or magazines.
I hope that all of the bookstore lovers will see the importance of supporting the remaining stores to the best of their ability. We want to keep them, and their employees who need the work, open as long as possible, before they go the way of the mimeograph or the electric typewriter.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.