KWJZ's smooth jazz format meets abrupt end
KWJZ 98.9 FM quit broadcasting smooth jazz on Dec. 27. The station now broadcasts the modern adult contemporary sounds of The New Click 98.9. Like smooth jazz stations around the country, KWJZ had experienced a plunge in ratings since the introduction of a new Arbitron system to measure listenership, called the Portable People Meter.
Seattle Times jazz critic
Seattle fans of smooth jazz were confused last week when they dialed their favorite radio station, KWJZ 98.9 FM, and heard Dave Matthews and the Kings of Leon. At 3 p.m. Dec. 27, the station changed its format to modern adult contemporary. The station does not yet have new call letters but for now is being called The New Click 98.9 FM.
Smooth jazz has experienced a dramatic ratings decline since a new system for tracking listenership was introduced by Arbitron. In Seattle, the Portable People Meter (PPM) replaced the old personal "diary" method in 2009.
According to Carol Handley, program director at the now-defunct KWJZ, when PPM came in, the station plunged from a No. 3 ranking to No. 22 among adult listeners.
"The change in Arbitron measures has not been favorable to certain lifestyle-driven formats, including smooth jazz," said Handley.
Arbitron ratings determine ad rates, which in turn determine revenue in the radio business.
Smooth jazz stations already have been shuttered in most major U.S. cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.
KWJZ had been broadcasting smooth jazz since 1993.
"We hung on longer than the vast majority of smooth jazz stations," said Mark Kaye, who remains general manager at Click 98.9, owned by Sandusky Broadcasting.
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