WNUA 95.5, the once proud voice of smooth jazz in Chicago, is no more. Effective May 22nd, 2009 at 9-55am the station flipped formats and, in so doing, sadly deprived a city that has music pulsing through its veins of an outlet which had served it well for the past 22 years. Although the station will retain an ‘on-line’ smooth jazz presence this is another indication that the days of contemporary jazz radio as we knew it and loved it are now strictly limited. As a frequent visitor to the mid west this hammer blow carries with it a very personal significance and I am saddened that an entire listening community has, in effect, been disenfranchised.
The news from Chicago only made what was already a bad week for contemporary jazz radio even worse. On May 18 KKSF 103.7, which has been providing San Francisco and the Bay Area with smooth jazz for the last twenty years also switched formats, in this case to something it is describing as ‘103.7 The Band’ but which in reality is no more than an oldies station playing hits from 60’s and 70’s.
Both broadcasters have cited economic considerations and a loss of advertising revenue as the main drivers for this change and KKSF even claims the decision was only made following ‘exhaustive market research’.
One is left to ponder on just where does the genre go from here.