120 Days of The Wave: Cleveland’s Smooth FM 107.3

05/04/2012 § Leave a comment

It’s been 120 days since the official return of Cleveland’s Smooth AC radio station, 107.3 The Wave.  It has been a joy to listen to new and classic favorites in this format, which has seen a recent growth spurt in popularity nationwide, and is largely responsible for a resurgence in the smooth music format on mainstream radio.  Smooth AC (Adult Contemporary) is the modern evolution of the classic Smooth Jazz format (which can still be heard on The Wave’s 107.3 HD2 station).  The Wave’s return was a pleasant (and unexpected) surprise after the purchase of the station in late 2011 by Rubber City Radio Group, Inc. Since it’s return, The Wave got off to a fast start in the ratings books and has continued to evolve with a great mix of new Smooth AC hit artists (Maysa, Conya Doss, Adele and Sarah’s Girl) along with newer Smooth Jazz (Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, Terry Wollman) and a touch of classic Smooth Jazz and R&B favorites.  The Smooth AC format is predominantly smooth vocals with about two or three instrumentals played for every broadcast hour.  There is something for every listener if you listen for just a short time.  While I prefer the classic Smooth Jazz format, I also enjoy listening to Earth, Wind & Fire, Maxwell, Erykah Badu and Bobby Caldwell.  I tune in throughout the day and listen on a radio at my desk at work.  It is also online via The Wave’s website.  Either way, it makes for great, relaxing background music.

It’s good to hear some familiar voices during the day, too.  Dan Deely is a veteran of Cleveland radio and is heard each day during morning drive and also on Saturday afternoon.  Mark Ribbins is the midday personality and the lone holdover from the original Wave.  Bobby Thomas is the evening rush hour host, and Lynn Kelly handles the evening duties.  Other on-air personalities provide local programming via the Smooth Jazz Network.  On weekends, Allen Kepler (Smooth Jazz Top 20), Dave Koz (The Dave Koz Radio Show) and Ramsey Lewis (Legends of Jazz) return from the original Wave with more smooth sounds to enjoy.

The station is also broadcasting on its HD2 channel, but the online feed has not yet been restored.  It is likely that the online feed will return once the station moves to its new studio in Independence, Ohio, which is still under construction as of this writing.

I am very pleased to hear The Wave back on the air once more and the transition from Smooth Jazz to Smooth AC has been relatively “smooth.”  Be sure to listen and help spread the word!


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.

Shuffle Set For Today’s Rush Hour Drive 01.23.2012

01/23/2012 § Leave a comment

Songs from my iPod today:

West Coast Poplock — Ronnie Hudson and The Street People — Street Jams Back 2 the Old Skool, Vol. 3

Must Be The Music (Radio Edit) — Secret Weapon — Must Be The Music

Hello Like Before — Vanessa Williams — The Real Thing

Hey Mr. D.J. [Remix] — Zhane — Pronounced Jah-Nay

Joe Cool — B. B. King — Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown!

Samba Blue — Michael Franks — Time Together

Eye 2 Eye — Najee — No. 1 Smooth Jazz Hits!

Heartbreaker (Part 1, Part 2) — Zapp & Roger — All The Greatest Hits

Groove Is In The Heart — Rick Braun — Yours Truly (With Bonus Track)

In Too Deep — Genesis — Genesis: The Hits – Turn It On Again

Spotlight — Jennifer Hudson — Jennifer Hudson (Bonus Track Version)

Got To Give It Up (Instrumental) — The Funk Brothers — Got To Give It Up (Single)

Watching You — Loose Ends — The Best of Loose Ends

Acoustic Lady — Earl Klugh — Heart String

Ain’t Leavin’ Without You — Jaheim — Another Round

Shuffle Set For Today’s Rush Hour Drive – 10.21.2011

10/21/2011 § Leave a comment

Songs from my iPod today (it’s a great set):

Fantastic Voyage — Coolio — It Takes a Thief

I’d Rather Be With You — Bootsy Collins — Stretchin’ Out in Bootsy’s Rubber Band

Time Out of Mind — Steely Dan — Gaucho

In a Sentimental Mood — John Coltrane & Duke Ellington — The Very Best of John Coltrane

Backstrokin’ — Fatback — Hot Box

A Song For You (featuring Christina Aguilera) — Herbie Hancock — Possibilities

Waiting in Vain — Lee Ritenour & Maxi Priest — A Twist of Marley – A Tribute

Save the Last Dance — Mindi Abair — It Just Happens That Way

Midnight At The Oasis — Ramsey Lewis Trio — Narada Jazz: The Singles

Maria (Spinner Cee Remix) — Santana

Dolores in Pink — Joyce Cooling — Global Cooling

Lovin’ You — Minnie Riperton — Capitol Gold: The Best of Minnie Riperton

Anytime — Brian McKnight — Anytime

Philadelphia Freedom — Elton John

Share My Life — Kem — Intimacy

I Swear — Jim Brickman — Love

Close the Door — Jeffrey Osborne — From the Soul

Shuffle Set For Today’s Rush Hour Drive – 10.19.2011

10/19/2011 § Leave a comment

Songs from my iPod today:

Woodpecker — Kelly Politzer Trio — Watercolor

Mexico — Ed Smith — Lifescapes – Sail Away – Smooth Jazz

Love Me or Leave Me — Cal Tjader Quintet — Monterey Concerts

‘Tis So Sweet — Jim Brickman — Faith

We Go a Long Way Back — Bloodstone — Bloodstone: The Ultimate Collection

Shake — The Gap Band — 20th Century Masters: The Millenium Collection – Best of The Gap Band

You Make Me Feel Brand New — Simply Red — Songs of Love

Hour Glass — Ed Smith — Lifescapes – Sail Away – Smooth Jazz

Harlem Nocturne — Kofi — Harlem Nocturne

Can You Feel It — Kem — Intimacy

Breathless — Vanessa Williams — The Real Thing

Natural High — Bloodstone — Bloodstone: The Ultimate Collection

O Nosso Amor — Vince Guaraldi Trio — Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

Boogie Nights — Heatwave — Too Hot To Handle

Friends and Strangers — Ronnie Laws — The Best of Ronnie Laws

Save the Last Dance — Mindi Abair — It Just Happens That Way

Shuffle Set For Today’s Rush Hour Drive – 10.18.2011

10/18/2011 § Leave a comment

Songs from my iPod today (in order): 

Shotgun — Jr. Walker & the All Stars

The Ghetto (Reprise) — Too $hort

Round Up — Sam Spence — The Power and The Glory: Original Music of NFL Films

Give Me The Night — George Benson

I Just Want To Be — Cameo

Four — Miles Davis Quintet — Workin’ (RVG Remaster)

Cantaloop — US3 — Rare Requests – Smooth Jazz

Be That Easy — Sade — Soldier of Love

Nite and Day — Al B. Sure — 80s Club: Rhythm of the Night

Acode (feat. Vanessa Da Mata) — Sergio Mendes & Vanessa Da Mata — Encanto

Around 12:15 A.M. — Alex Bugnon — Love Season

Vibe — Zhane — Pronounced Jah-Nay

Jammin’ – Grover Washington, Jr. — Love Songs

When I Give My Love To You — Michael Franks — The Best of Michael Franks

Let Me Clear My Throat (Old School Reunion Remix ’96) — DJ Kool feat. Biz Markie & Doug E. Fresh

When I’m With You — David Sanborn — Inside

Born To Be Wild — Steppenwolf

Dream — Brad Mehidau — Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Clumsy (Collipark Remix) feat. Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em — Fergie

Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) — Babyface and Gwyneth Paltrow — Duets

Shoe Was On The Other Foot — Patti Labelle — Flame

Everything — Michael Buble

Time — The Alan Parsons Project

The Pony Soldiers — Sam Spence — The Power and The Glory: Original Music of NFL Films

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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