Jazz FM Ends Its Soul Searching

Article excerpt

Jazz FM launched in spring 1990. Following a rocky first two years which culminated in the station's insolvency, it now claims to have established both financial security and a coherent programming policy.

Director of sales and marketing Katy Turner puts the blame for the station's early problems firmly on its launch management who had "little experience in commercial radio and who were fanatical about jazz."

That fanaticism was at the heart of a classic branding problem which has brought Jazz and the Radio Authority in for a lot of ill-informed criticism.

The problem for Jazz is that it is not strictly speaking a jazz station. At launch the RA advised against a narrow jazz format because they thought it was financially unviable -- a prophetic view.

Instead it sanctioned a promise of performance so wide that Capital's director of programming, Richard Park, is reported to have said he could programme Capital on it.

The launch management, however, narrowed the format and in the process alienated the audience which Turner claims was really there to be wooed: The up-market 25- to 44-year-old male who was probably listening to Radio 4 and GLR.

According to Turner: "The name has been a double-edged sword. Jazz is meant to be a perception thing, it should be like the perfume, risque, sophisticated, aspirational."

But the early response was "a high trial, then a high switch-off," says Turner, "because some tracks were way off the wall. …

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