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!


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

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.

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

Smooth Jazz 107.3 Online – The Evolution One Year Later

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.

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