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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Cleveland’s 107.3 The Wave is Streaming Once More

01/09/2012 § Leave a comment

Cleveland’s Smooth FM, WNWV, 107.3 The Wave, is now streaming live online via 1073thewave.net or through the website’s media player link.  The Wave returned to the airwaves officially this past Wednesday, January 4 after a two-year hiatus with the new Smooth AC format.

Personally, I am still waiting for the reconnection of the The Wave Classics online streaming (107.3 HD2), which is the “classic” smooth jazz radio station, which is a revival of the original Wave that was on for over two decades before the programming change to AAA alternative rock two years ago.  The HD2 online streaming is still down after running the Christmas classic jazz programming over the holidays.

The station had reported technical difficulties with both online streaming channels after the transition to new temporary studios.  Now that the main station is streaming once more, I can take the station with me wherever I go with my WunderRadio app on my iPhone or iPod Touch (with wifi).

By the way, I’m thoroughly enjoying the new Wave and the Smooth AC format!  It has been a pleasure to listen to new songs and old favorites once more.

107.3 The Wave Returns: The First 24 Hours

01/04/2012 § Leave a comment

After a few weeks of anticipation, Cleveland’s Smooth FM, 107.3 The Wave made the official return to the airwaves earlier this morning just after midnight.  The station sent out a message on Twitter that they were doing “a little tweaking and fine tuning” and commenced with the new programming at about 9:00 pm yesterday.  The HD radio signal, and the smooth AC music, sounds terrific!

I was able to listen to a good portion of the broadcast programming today off and on while at work.  Dan Deely made his station debut during morning drive, and Mark Ribbins began his first late morning/early afternoon shift.  Both are very well known in the Cleveland radio market and make for the foundation of a strong daily lineup.

There are still issues that need to be ironed out that developed not long after the testing began yesterday.  Both online (internet radio) feeds for the main FM channel and the HD2 (The Wave Classics) channel went down with error messages and are hopefully being worked on at this time.  I also tried to access the online feeds via WunderRadio and encountered the same issues.  Once the online issue is fixed, I will sample the smooth jazz “Classics” playlist.  Even though the online feed is not working, I can see from the list of music that our smooth jazz favorites that we have come to know are back and better than ever, including the Art of Noise’s Moments In Love and Joyce Cooling’s Before Dawn.  There is also plenty to love with more Dave Koz, David Benoit, Kenny G, and Count Basic to enjoy.

All in all, the Smooth AC music mix on the main station is very interesting, and it will take some getting used to for the casual listener.  There are some new artists that I could not recognize from the morning drive playlist, and there is a wide range of music styles that fall under the station’s Smooth AC umbrella–I heard some ballads with only a vocal and guitar, some smooth jazz instrumentals, a touch of folk, an inspirational piece, with some R&B in between.  I’m intrigued by the new format, and I like what I’ve heard thus far.

It’s great to have a new smooth FM choice in Cleveland radio and also can still catch smooth jazz on the The Wave’s HD2 channel.  Welcome back, 107.3!  We missed you!

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!

Black Friday: A Celebration of Sleep Deprivation

11/25/2010 § Leave a comment

I wish I had seen the phenomenon of Black Friday when I was younger, because I could have retired long before today by getting a copyright or trademark on the name.  Black Friday has evolved and morphed into more than just the first official day of the Christmas shopping season.  It is now a phenomenon that is a grandiose celebration of American free enterprise and interstate commerce.  That celebration comes at a price.  If you are into Black Friday, you are not thinking about sleeping.

Thanksgiving Day used to be the untouchable day of rest, family get-togethers, turkey, dressing, and the related comfort food that we love, along with a Thanksgiving/Christmas kickoff parade and a couple of football games on television.  Today, Black Friday is taking on a life of its own by reaching back into Thanksgiving Thursday to get everyone jacked up and into the spirit of Christmas shopping.  Some retailers are even open on Thanksgiving Day, which never used to happen.  Restaurants are also open on Thanksgiving because they see the shift of consumer shopping (and the profitability) on that same day as well.  Christmas shopping has now evolved into a 24-hour extravaganza.  If you can’t go to the store, that’s OK.  Stay up late or get up early…or don’t bother to sleep at all…just log in and shop online.  The retailers are there just for you waiting for your credit card information, and you may even get free shipping, too.

Retailers spend most of the year planning for this shopping season, which can easily make or break their entire year when it comes to profitability.  Just as they gear up for this time, they spend a significant amount of advertising dollars getting consumers whipped up about it, especially since we have had a flat economy over the last couple of years.  Just when it starts getting cold outside for most of us, they convince many people to get less and less sleep and get up earlier and earlier for deep discounts, whatever they may be.  To me, when it gets cold and dark outside, I want to go to bed.  When I eat turkey and dressing, I want to rest.  Not for the relentless bargain hunters, though.  They’ll even pitch tents and sit outside stores while nearly freezing to death even BEFORE Thanksgiving Day.  It borders on insanity.  In all of these efforts, sleep is irrelevant, and shopping for deals is prevalent.  I suppose that we need to feel good about saving money in the midst of our personal torture.

Some stores will be open at 10 pm on Thanksgiving Day, where you can shop just long enough for some stores to open at midnight on Black Friday.  Then, you can take a quick food break before heading over to the grocery store in the area, which opens at 3 am.  There you can stock up on your gift cards with gas discounts, just in time for the 4 am opening of another store.  If you haven’t passed out yet, you can join other retailers when they open at 5 and 6 am.  After this, you can become a zombie and trudge through the rest of Friday when the rest of the population converges on mall parking areas and shopping centers (drivers get interesting by that time of the day).  Crowds, long lines, and people of varying levels of patience, or a lack thereof.  Black Friday is now a replay of the movie of the Night of the Living Dead.  You’ll be numb by that time anyway.  But remember…it’s a celebration!

Or you can do what I do…remain a traditionalist and roll over in bed.  That’s my kind of celebration.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

 

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.

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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