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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
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 soon.
Chicago's Navy Pier Concert Series Presented by WNUA
WNUA ChicagoJuly 19, 2005 - WNUA 95.5 in Chicago is featuring the Navy Pier Concert Series. Shows being featured include the Dave Koz & Friends tour on July 15th and 16th, Chris Botti & Joyce Cooling on August 12th, and the Guitars & Saxes tour on August 13th. For more details and information on how to purchase tickets, visit http://www.wnua.com/concertevents/npcsgrpsale.html.
- by
Nick Langan
R&R Broadcaster Award Goes To Dave Koz and Pat Prescott
WNUA ChicagoJune 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 Beaudin
Smooth Jazz Nominations from R&R Magazine
WNUA ChicagoMay 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.
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U.S. Winter Smooth Jazz Ratings
WNUA ChicagoMarch 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

Interview with Porsche Stevens
WNUA ChicagoOctober , 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 1, 2003.
Click here - Update - Stevens is no longer at WNUA.

 

 

 
 
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SMOOTH JAZZNOW CHART FOR MARCH 20. 2010

TW LW ARTIST SONG
1 3 Michael J Thomas City Beat
2 1 Michael Buble Hold on (# 1 for 2 weeks)
3 4 Andy Scott Far
4 9 Peter White Good Day
5 2 Corinne Bailey Ray Closer
6 6 Drew Davidsen Astro
7 5 Ken Navarro The Stars, The Snow, The Fire
(#1 for 4 weeks)
8 7 Brian Culbertson Go
9 8 Maysa Am I Wrong
10 10 Jaared Always Together
Click here for the complete Chart

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The Smooth Jazz Now TOP 100 Songs of 2009
1
George Benson Living in High Definition 
2
Bernie Williams Go For It 
3
Peter White  Bright
4
Darren Rahn Talk of the Town 
5
Paul Taylor  Burnin' 
6
Boney James Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)
7
Nick Colionne Big Windy Cat
8
Walter Beasley Steady As She Goes
9
Jackiem Joyner  I'm Waiting for You
10
Ken Navarro Nomad 

 

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