Chicago’s Smooth Jazz WNUA is Gone May 22, 2009 – It didn’t take long for the word to get to us. Within 15 minutes of station WNUA in Chicago flipping formats, Smooth Jazz Now received hundreds of angry emails from diehard Smooth Jazz fans. One of the biggest forces in Smooth Jazz was gone.
There had been tell-tale signs that the station might be in trouble. In January two long-term personalities at WNUA, Rick O’Dell and Danae Alexander were given their walking papers sparking numerous rumors.
The station is now known as Mega 955, a Spanish AC format. They started by playing 5,000 commercial-free songs in a row.
Owner’s Clear channel blamed the format flip on "their inability to sell advertising against the Smooth Jazz format in the current radio environment for the need to switch formats at WNUA," says the Chicago Sun-Times.
There is some good news for Chicago Smooth Jazz fans, Broadcast Architecture's Smooth Jazz Network has relocated to WLFM-FM (87.7 The L) in Chicago.
Of course some people are blaming this whole mess on Broadcast Architecture who are owned by WNUA’s parent Company Clear Channel.
Smooth Jazz Now owner John Beaudin who has programmed Smooth Jazz and its predecessor, NAC since 1986 said, “I certainly don’t think Broadcast Architecture are blameless but there are a lot of factors going on here. If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten. In this case, and I know I sound like a broken record, but to freshen up the format the consultants started adding too many stale R&B vocal hits coupled with Groove/R&B instrumentals. It started relating to less people by the day. Who gives a crap about Groove instrumentals? It didn’t work. I know there’s a new Groove chart now so they’ve billboarded what’s wrong with the format and tried to make it stand on its own. Good luck with that.”
On the subject of WNUA Beaudin said, “Like KKSF last week, it’s sad when one of these huge stations fold. I’m glad the fans in Chicago will have the New “L” but trust me the answer to saving this format is not in canned Broadcast Architecture shows but who knows, let’s see what they come up with. Maybe everything will be live in Chicago.” – by Kari Graham
Rick O’Dell and Danae Alexander Ousted from Smooth Jazz WNUA Chicago Jan. 27, 2009 – The rumors of WNUA switching formats just got louder last week with the layoffs of two of their most popular personalities, mid-day host Rick O’Dell and evening announcer Danae Alexander. Though part of Clear Channels huge 1,800 job cuts on Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day, the loss of O’Dell and Alexander should be felt considering their 20 year tenures at the station.
O’Dell, though disappointed, seemed somewhat relieved, "It's been about 40 percent disappointment, 60 percent relief, to be honest with you," he said. "They have been putting the screws to middle management in Chicago for the last five or six months so much that on the one hand it's the loss of a job, on the other it's a sigh of relief.”
"I think there are others who will feel this way too," O'Dell continued. "They had cut to the bone so severely that anyone who still had a job was essentially doing two to three jobs. ... Just three years ago, they had four separate full-time jobs for the one job that I was doing when I was let go. That's how far they trimmed. Every station in the cluster was under the gun in the same sort of way."
WNUA has also had problems in the ratings in the last 12 months. The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week that “the jazz format isn't working in Chicago, where the station is among the lower-rated outlets in the market, with ad revenues to match.” The paper says “most local radio executives expect a format change at the station sooner, probably, rather than later.”
Downsizing is a sobering experience in any industry and news that O’Dell who considered WNUA his home for 20 years was escorted out of the building, a policy that unfortunately many companies have adopted borders on insulting. O’Dell said, "In 20 years of working there, there's a lot of stuff, but I put as much as I could in my gym bag.” He added, "This poor guy who works in the mailroom at Clear Channel has been given the job all day long of escorting all the people who've been laid off to the elevator and seeing them off."
Comments on the Chicago Tribune website were not pretty. Here are a few…
“You work at a place for 20 years and they escort you out with what you can carry? That is outrageous. This is so typical of Corporate America. I am a big WNUA listener and now I will remove this from my pre-set car radio channels and I will no longer listen to it while I work from my home office. I have been in Mr. O'Dell's position and I want to say it is very humiliating to have this done to you.”
“I will no longer be listening to WNUA. What a big mistake they have made!”
“Wow! What is this world coming to when someone like Rick O'Dell can be treated like a common criminal? For years WNUA has been my source of inspiration to get through the work day, now I’ll just have to find it someplace else.” - By John Beaudin
Scott Adams has New Duties at WNUA Chicago June 4, 2008 – Good for Scott Adams who’s been giving the popular gig host of “The Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch” at WNUA Chicago. As everyone knows ratings and sometimes remote opportunities are huge for Sunday brunch programs. Adams has also been known as the host of “The Saturday Show” and “The Sound of Brazil.” Congrats from all of us to Scott. – by John Beaudin
Smooth Jazz Network Shakes up the format December
8, 2006 - If you like Smooth Jazz radio you're bound
to hear more from Dave
Koz in the New Year. Broadcast
Architecture's Smooth Jazz Network may replace
many well-known announcers in the format with personalities
like Koz and Ramsey
Lewis. So far Cliff Smith of KYOT/Phoenix, Ray White and Timothy Alexander White of KKSF/San
Francisco have lost their jobs. Smith will be
replaced by former afternoon drive host Tony Evans
whose position is now being filled by Koz.
In San Francisco long-time afternoon host Koz will
also replace Ray
White and night host Timothy Alexander White
loses his job for Annie Ashe of the Smooth Jazz
Network. Koz has
also been announced to host the afternoons at WNUA Chicago. Former afternoon drive host Danae Alexander
will be moved back to evenings. Expect more announcements
Broadcaster Award Goes To Dave Koz and Pat
28, 2005 - Weekends are usually a good time
for Dave Koz considering his Dave
Koz radio show typically airs on Saturdays
or Sundays. This past weekend was especially
extraordinary as the saxophonist won the
top Broadcaster prize at the yearly R&R convention held this year in Cleveland.
Koz and co-host Pat Prescott won for the
Personality/Show prize for their work at KTWV
The Wave in Los Angeles. They won the
same prize last year as well as in 2002.
Station of the year was WNUA in Chicago for market 1-25, KSSJ in Sacramento won in markets 26-100 and WCJZ Charlottsville in the 100+ department. KTWV
The Wave in L.A. won another award via
the top Program Director prize for Paul
Goldstein. Suzanne Berg was picked as top
Promotion Executive, Kelly Cole of KIFM in San Diego was Music Director of the Year
and Verve was top label. - by John
Jazz Nominations from R&R Magazine May
25, 2005 - They say that radio can sometimes be
a thankless job but maybe "they" are talking
to the wrong people. Radio
and Records (R&R) magazine have announced
nominations for the "Industry Achievement Awards"
and Smooth Jazz personalities and programmers were
well represented. Nominated for Program Director
are KTWV's Paul Goldstein in Los Angeles; Bernie Kimble at WNWV in Cleveland, Blake Lawrence from WQCD in New York, Baltimore's Lori Lewis at WSMJ,
Chicago's Steve Stiles at WNUA and our friend Mike
Vasquez from KIFM in San Diego.More
Winter Smooth Jazz Ratings March
10, 2005 - Winter 2005 Part 1 Arbitron Ratings
Trends: Los Angeles' "94.7
The Wave" (KTWV) continues to be on the
upswing, jumping up to fourth overall in the age
12 and older ratings. Chicago's WNUA
95.5 holds steady to place in a tie for seventh,
while New York's "CD
101.9 New York Chill" continues to do
well with its new format, holding in a tie for
ninth place. San Diego's KIFM
98.1 moves up to fifth, while Detroit's "V
98.7" (WVMV) slips to eighth. - by Nick Langan
with Porsche Stevens October
, 2003 - The success of Chicago's WNUA is no
secret in the Smooth Jazz world. After launching
in 1987 when their format was in its infancy
WNUA quickly became a flag ship station for
the genre. So, it seems fitting that our first
stop for our American radio "Behind the
Mic" feature lands us in the windy city.
This month we talked with Afternoon Drive Host
Porsche Stevens who joined the WNUA team in
2001. After working in many different formats
Stevens told us she's finally found a home with
a format that speaks to her on many different
levels. We spoke to Stevens via phone on October
here - Update - Stevens is no longer at WNUA.
Review Policy - Smooth Jazz Now.com believes money
does not buy a positive review. The music world is filled
with magazines and websites that will play you, or positively review you if you buy advertising. That's
not what we are about. It's a little thing called credibility.
If you want to advertise with us, we welcome you and will
do our very best to make sure anyone who visits this site
will know your name, but we won't guarantee you a positive
review. If you work with a magazine that gives you these
guarantees remember it's your reputation that's on the
line, they've already sold theirs. - John Beaudin, President,
Smooth Jazz Now.com
Sacramento Loses Their Smooth Jazz KSSJ 94.7 March 5, 2010 – Smooth Jazz has gone dark in Sacramento. Entercom Communications, owners of Smooth Jazz KSSJ 94.7 FM pulled the plug on the station this week. More
Now 3 Chances to Win “Classic Smooth Jazz 6 Packs” February 27, 2010 – Smooth Jazz Now wants to thank you for listening. Starting Monday March 1st listen for your name andyou could win some of the biggest albums in Smooth Jazz history. More
In Conversation with U-NAM on his latest CD ‘Unanimity’
February 23, 2010 - French Smooth Jazz guitar sensation Emmanuel Abitebol, more known as U-NAM, came to fame with his widely acclaimed somophore album ‘Back from the 80’s’ released in 2007. More
Sade Is Queen Again
February 23, 2010 – The new Sade album is kicking some serious butt on the charts. After a 10 year break the sultry singer is back on top of the Billboard Album Charts with “Soldier of Love.” It sold over 500 thousand in its first week of release. More
Record Numbers of Votes Registered for the 6th Annual Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards
February 22, 2010 – The annual Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards ballot count ending last Friday (Feb. 19) reflects a dramatic increase in voter interest. Awards co-chair, Mary Kirk, of Wave 94.7FM says, “Thank you to the huge number of fans from all over the world who took time to send in their ballots.” More
In Conversation with Paula Atherton
February 19 - 2010 - Smooth Jazz female sax players are not numerous, but there is a collection of talented performers such as Candy Dulfer, Jessy J and Paula Atherton among others. Mrs. Atherton does not only perform sax and other horn instruments, she is also a consummate singer. Read the interview