by Chris Acton, Owner/Operator/Program Director
Welcome friends, to the broadcasting home of “The WAV”, formally WWAV-DB, WCJZ-DB, Jazz Central Radio, and The .wav. Sure, the branding might have changed a few times over the years to keep up with the changing times, but our mission stays the same. Since 2008, our passion has been to the preservation of "Smooth Jazz," a once thriving and viable adult alternative terrestrial radio format. The format derived its initial success from featuring Contemporary Jazz music. However, an over-reliance on consultants and safe playlists incorporating a large number of crossover and Soft Adult Contemporary vocals drove listeners away in droves. As ratings plummeted, a spate of format flips ensued leading to the near extinction of the format in 2008.
As a fellow longtime loyal listener jilted by the Smooth Jazz ruling elite, we decided to take matters into my own hands. On July 1, 2008, "The .wav", later known as wavjazz.net and operating under the call letters WWAV-DB, was born out of a vision to change both the reputation and the direction of the format. It was time. No longer could we sit on the sidelines and witness the destruction of the format we had cherished for over a quarter of a century.
Our mission is simple: to provide you the absolute best programming the format has ever seen. We understand that such a promise comes with a great deal of responsibility. But we do not take this commitment lightly, nor do we take our listeners for granted. We all saw how that worked out for terrestrial radio. While we respect and thank the terrestrial radio pioneers of the format, like KTWV in Los Angeles, KIFM in San Diego, and WNUA in Chicago, we reject the approach they took and far too many Internet broadcasters have taken in trying to make what was a viable, albeit niche adult alternative format something it never was intended to be. As the age-old proverb goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. In striving for mass appeal, consultants preached "safe and familiar" to attract a broader demographic to the format. This required massively shrinking playlists, spinning an increasing number familiar overplayed vocal cuts, all the while undermining and marginalizing the very foundation of the format...Contemporary Jazz. The success of this strategy was short-lived. This grab for ratings and mass appeal ultimately alienated base listeners, some of the most loyal and passionate you will find in all of radio.
While terrestrial radio deserves much of the blame for the format's demise, we also believe there is way too much "noise" out there on the Internet. We do not believe in gimmicks like 24/7 request-driven programming, nor do we believe in overgrown mp3 players with little or no programming logic, and no regard to changing pace or instrumentation. Such presentations are a disservice to the artists, the labels, and most importantly, the listeners. From day one, we realized that if we were ever going to be taken seriously by the industry, our listeners, and our competitors, we would have to put forth a meticulously crafted, highly professional musical presentation worthy of praise by our harshest critics---those who doubted the format would survive, let alone on the Internet and spearheaded by hobbyists. We are confident in saying we have far exceeded even our own lofty expectations. In Spring 2010, after less than 2 years on the air, we were the featured story in Jazziz magazine's Contempo column.
We do not profess to be the "masterminds" that some of our predecessors in this business claimed to be. But we do firmly believe our approach to this format ultimately will be a winning one. How do we know? Because it resonates with our listeners, which is why we appreciate and encourage their feedback. Since our launch in 2008, we have prided ourselves on being an operation built by the people, built for the people. As such, we also pride ourselves in not caving to pressure from consultants, promoters, labels, and yes, even the artists who share their God-given talent with us. While we have developed terrific relationships with these folks over the years, we must respect and honor the commitment we have made to our listeners. We refuse to spin new music just for the sake of spinning "singles," or just because a certain artist or group has name recognition or achieved "legendary" status in the industry and amongst fans. It must fit within the scope of our overall programming strategy that our loyal listeners have come to know and appreciate. We pride ourselves in presenting an album-oriented format and unearthing deep cuts that may not see the light of day on other stations. We change pace by incorporating Chill/Electronica music into our playlist, music made mainstream in the United States thanks in large part to another former terrestrial giant, New York's CD 101.9 (WQCD). We strongly believe this music helps keep the format fresh and interesting for what is an intelligent and affluent audience, and are at a loss to explain why terrestrial radio by and large passed on this music.