- 2007 sees demise of jazz, classical music, nostalgia in Milwaukee radio Posted: Dec. 30, 2007 Inside TV & Radio Tim Cuprisin For listeners of jazz,Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2008View Source
2007 sees demise of jazz, classical music, nostalgia in Milwaukee radio
Posted: Dec. 30, 2007
Inside TV & Radio
For listeners of jazz, classical and nostalgia, 2007 was the year the music died in Milwaukee radio.
The generational change began Jan. 2 with a major revamping at WOKY-AM (920), which resurrected its 1960s image as "The Mighty 92," turning its back on Frank Sinatra and embracing the Beatles. The move was designed to target aging baby boomers, now entering their 60s, a group that's easier to sell to advertisers than 'OKY's older audience.
Year one of WOKY's 1960s-early '70s format has been a success. At year's end, the station dropped two familiar voices, Robb Edwards and Parker Drew, who had been "voice-tracking" their shows, recording them in advance. It was part of big-time budget-cutting by WOKY's owner, Clear Channel, and had more to do with the economy than the station's format.
NO MORE JAZZ: A couple months later, a long-expected format change hit WYMS-FM (88.9), the Milwaukee Public Schools radio station.
Jazz was ditched for a newer version of cool, an eclectic mix of hip-hop, rock and undefinable genres of music targeting young hipsters.
Although the change had been coming for years - WYMS' format was a satellite feed - jazz fans were irate.
Meanwhile, the new WYMS is trying to get its younger audience to understand the concept of public radio: No, there aren't any commercials to interrupt the music, but that means listeners have to kick in to keep the whole thing going.
A GLIMMER OF HOPE: Then came the end of classical music on WFMR-FM in late June, along with the dumping of the call letters, as the station picked up a smooth jazz format and the new identity of WJZX-FM (106.9).
Classical music is a dying genre on radio around the country. Milwaukee's commercial classical station stood out as a rarity, trying to earn advertising dollars with the format.
Only the timing of its demise was a real surprise, as Saga Communications moved quickly to pick up the format that had just been dropped by the old WJZI - which, in turn, picked up a light rock format and changed its call letters to WLDB-FM (93.3).
While it's still a good bet that none of the three deposed formats will return to Milwaukee radio - although you can find all of them easily on satellite - the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is one of the applicants for an education radio license that the Federal Communications Commission is making available.
It's the very first step on a long and difficult road to an MSO station playing a classical format. But for classical music listeners bereft at the loss of 'FMR, it's something to hope for.