Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Radio Station Jazzes Up Tulsa Market: Nonprofit Goes Where Commercial Stations Can't with Smooth Jazz

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Radio Station Jazzes Up Tulsa Market: Nonprofit Goes Where Commercial Stations Can't with Smooth Jazz

Article excerpt

Tulsa Community Radio Inc. has brought smooth jazz back to the Tulsa radio airwaves with the launch of the 76-watt 107.9 FM.

It was the biggest hole in the market, said Jason Bennett, the nonprofit firm's technical specialist.

Clear Channel Radio abandoned jazz in 1997, creating the market void. That follows a national trend.

If you look even nationally, it's a pretty tough format to do and one of the formats that's probably not as mass appeal as some people think it is, said Michael Oppenheimer, market manager for Clear Channel Radio's six stations in Tulsa. It looks like we've got about 15 jazz stations throughout the company. Overall, the company has about 1,200 radio stations.

Based on listeners from 6 a.m. to midnight, audiences 12 and up, average quarter hour ratings share for jazz stations nationwide have not topped 0.1 since the winter of 1998-99, according to Arbitron. For the south central United States, Arbitron has not even listed jazz market ratings for six quarters.

Usually you don't see those stations surviving in the smaller markets, said Julian Davis, director of urban media services for Arbitron, the international media and marketing research firm based in New York.

But that also creates a niche a nonprofit can better serve than for-profits.

It's all about debt service, said Bennett. Commercial stations often carry a debt load in the millions to pay for the station, frequency and talent. Tulsa Community Radio, however, received its license for KJZT from the Federal Communications Commission without sweating equity.

We don't have to raise any money to pay for our license, said Bennett. It's basically a big hobby.

Oppenheimer agreed: There's no question about it. It all goes down to the bottom line.

Davis noted that even in cities large enough to offer the diverse segment needed to support jazz, across-the-board ratings usually don't enter into the game.

Most of the smooth jazz stations run somewhere between a 2 share and a 5 share, he said. It's not until they get the 35-plus level that you start seeing in the 4 share or the 5 share. …

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