All That Jazz

According to this post on, jazz listeners getting the short shrift in format musical chairs have made the UK-based Jazz FM the number-one site on the new iPad — the week that it offered the service. The online site is also number one on the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Nokia. This new source of jazz might be welcome news to irate jazz fans in Austin, whose fave Paul Ray was yanked from his regular jazz show. In return, station bean counters have moved canned music into a jazz HD channel where the five people in Austin who care can nod out to public-radio elevator music. Those interested in seeing what the excitement is all about can find it here.

Duane Dudek, writing in the JSOnline site in Milwaukee, had an interesting take on the decline in real jazz on radio:

“These formats didn’t become obsolete because people weren’t listening,” said Robert Unmacht, of IN3 Partners, a Nashville-based media consulting firm.

“In fact, easy listening was the most listened-to format in the country when it started to go away in the 1980s. But radio likes easy money, and the easiest way to make the easiest money” is by attracting listeners in the middle of the broadest demographic – the 25-to-54-year-old age group.

“It’s the idiot deer standing in the open field,” said Unmacht.

“They all piled on to the center of the bell curve” and “chased the easiest demographic to sell to advertisers to the point of throwing everything else away.”

If that is how the formats died, then people meters are the stake through their heart.

Classical, jazz and easy listening music listeners tended to keep the stations on in the background continuously. But since the people-meter methodology “rewards short-term listening,” stations “just need you for five minutes.”

“They are not focused on keeping you for an hour,” Unmacht said.

However, this strategy also represents a threat to broadcasters. If, Unmacht said, terrestrial radio stations are “just playing songs . . . they’re competing with every music service on earth” being streamed commercial-free on digital, satellite, cable and Internet and HD media — many of which are already in your home.

By the by, this post on gives one reading of Arbitron’s Public Radio Today 2010 (found in the post “What Were You Thinking?” here). It notes the following:

It comes as no surprise that News/Talk captures nearly half of all public radio listening and remains the most-listened-to public radio format in the nation. However, Triple A and News-Triple A, which has 3.7 percent of the AQH share of all Public Radio listenership in the Fall of 2009, has a younger age profile than all other public radio formats.

Which explains the PDs in our fair cities jumping on board the bandwagon to the tune called by Arbitron. Those betting Triple A are going after the young’uns — you know, the ones who’d rather listen to their iPods or Pandora than some canned celebrity’s…


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