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Article About the Death of Smooth Jazz in Columbus

by Mark Subel on August 12, 2010

One of the feature stories for the Other Paper this week is about the death of smooth jazz and its affect on jazz in general in Columbus. We reported earlier that local smooth jazz station, WJZA suddenly changed formatting (literally overnight) and switched to an 80’s music format.

This article talks about jazz radio in Columbus as well as information about local jazz radio DJ, Fritz the Night Owl and his take on this. Here are some snippets from the full article:

“We tried, we really did,” said Alan Goodman, president of the Columbus Radio Group, which managed Columbus’s Smooth Jazz 103.5, as well as Sunny 95 and Mix 107.9.

“We were one of the last smooth jazz stations to bail on the format. But it’s been in trouble for a while. There’s been a shift in the industry, where the quantity of listeners became more important than the quality of listeners. The radio stations that have lots of listeners, regardless of how long they listen, will be rewarded, and the stations whose listeners listen passionately aren’t rewarded. The ’JZA listeners weren’t button-pushers.”

“It just would have been nice to get a little warning,” Peerenboom said. “It was just so sudden. Every Saturday and Sunday for the last 19 years revolved around putting that (radio) show together. And then, it wasn’t there. That weekend, it was like when you’ve driven a manual-shift car for years and you switch to an automatic. There’s just extra shit you feel like you should be doing.”

But those who play jazz for a living see WJZA’s format change as a bad sign—whether they listened to the station or not.

“I wasn’t a listener myself,” said Bobby Floyd. “But they did promote jazz in general, and these days, we need all the help we can get.”

Floyd said that while the station may not have played the kind of music he enjoyed, it did advertise the clubs and the jazz artists around town.

“The audience is still there for live music,” he said. “But you need radio to advertise it and promote it. You need radio to convert listeners and get the word out. You use every means available to you, but without radio, it takes it down a notch.”

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