It will be interesting to see what Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s broadcast regulatory agency, says about GMG Radio, aka “Smooth Radio” of London and North West’s request to pare down its jazz format. Here’s the gist of the request for the stations (I’ve added the bold):
“Current Character of Service
AN EASY LISTENING STATION FEATURING EASY LISTENING MUSIC INCLUDING JAZZ, SOUL, BLUES AND R&B TARGETING A NORTH-WEST AUDIENCE AGED 50-PLUS, AND BROADCASTING 45 HOURS A WEEK OF SPECIALIST JAZZ PROGRAMMES
Proposed Character of Service
AN EASY LISTENING STATION FEATURING EASY LISTENING MUSIC AND LIFESTYLE ORIENTED SPEECH, TARGETING A NORTH WEST AUDIENCE AGED 50-PLUS, AND BROADCASTING 12 HOURS A WEEK OF SPECIALIST MUSIC PROGRAMMES“
As you can see, it’s those “specialist jazz programmes” that GMG wants to retrench, scheduling what’s left before midnight and during weekend afternoons.
In the United States radio stations can change their formats at will with no comment from our Federal Communications Commission. Some listeners might get angry, but most managements just white knuckle the complaints and move on. In the UK though it’s a whole different story. Stations have to publish their format shifting proposals and the public gets to weigh in before Ofcom makes its call.
Here’s GMG’s explanation for the change: “The necessity to provide 45 hours of jazz related music within these two station schedules, though no longer an expectation or a requirement for the vast majority of listeners[,]” the license owner writes, “nevertheless has had to stay because of the current format and character of service which we believe is now out of date, unnecessary and adheres more to the previous heritage of the licence rather than current listener requirements.”
“We do not believe that the current enforced jazz music requirement is now inline with audience expectation nor is there appreciation of this music genre within the overall easy listening format of Smooth Radio,” GMG adds. “Therefore the removal of the requirement for 45 hours of specialist jazz programming will not substantially alter its current appeal to the audience it predominantly serves. In addition it is a fact that 24-hour Jazz related music can now be easily found on DAB in London, nationally on DTV, online and on other listening platforms via Jazz FM which according to RAJAR now attracts nearly half a million listeners across the UK each week.”
From rummaging around what looks like the London stations playlist, I’m not getting much a jazz emphasis anyway (of course, it all depends what you call “smooth jazz”):
- Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around
- Paolo Nutini – Candy
- Wilson Pickett – In The Midnight Hour
- Champaign – How ’bout Us
- Eagles – Lying Eyes
- Odyssey – If You’re Looking for the Way Out
- Neil Diamond, Song Sung Blue
- Michael Jackson, Got To Be There
- Boris Gardiner – I Want To Wake Up With You
- Fyfe Dangerfield – She’s Always A Woman
- Genesis – Throwing It All Away
- Jimmy Ruffin – What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted
I am enjoying the deejays, though. If you’re a UK person in the relevant area, you can give Ofcom feedback here. The “consultation,” as they call it over there, ends on June 25.