Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jazz station in Houston changes to "Hot Hits!"

So the nation's 4th largest market has no jazz station again. Again.

You can't really count KTSU (broadcasting from the campus of Texas Southern University - TSU) as a jazz station because they do a lot of community service stuff over the weekend, and they have a lot of non-jazz music during the week. Plus they're
down there on the left end of the dial where all the NPR hippies and KPFT radicals hang out. Not many people venture down there. But they do at least play a wider range of jazz than any "smooth jazz" station would play.

I don't get it. Jazz music has a hundred different styles, from big band to sultry singers to be-bop to contemporary, and yet you can't find it in Houston, unless you cocoon yourself in your own music player.

There have been a few attempts to have a jazz format in Houston over the years. Rarely would they last more than two years. The common complaint would be that they could not attract enough advertisers. Not enough ad revenue. The death knell for a corporate enterprise, to be sure.

KHJZ was an exception: they stayed with the "smooth jazz" concept for 5 1/2 years, and they had a wide range of advertising. And a lot of it. But they never did break into the top 10 radio stations on the FM dial in Houston.

Over the last year or two, they'd been playing more and more R&B and not jazz. Music like Barry White or what I call "black chick music," which consists or hardly any melody at all, but has black women rapping to a beat or cramming hundreds of notes in when you only need a few. Think Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston.

But even worse than reaching back to play too much R&B or "black chick music," KHJZ fell back on the "playlist" far too much. It's bad enough to hear Mariah Carey, but to hear her EVERY SINGLE DAY at about the same time!! Geez. It's not even "smooth jazz."

With such a broad array of jazz, and with so many years to choose from, KHJZ would play the same songs by the same artists, over and over. And over. And over.

I guess we'll never get to hear a free-form, full-strength station letting DJ's play whatever they want out of the huge variety of jazz available. No. No. That won't do. Bottom line. Bottom line. Can't play obscure stuff. Have to stick to the Billboard top whatever. Sad. I guess I can understand it.

Even the worst, least-listened to radio frequencies in Houston sell for no less than $50 million these days. You have to recoup your investment. Too bad. With so many millionaires - nay billionaires - running around these days, I wish a few of them would pool a few billion and buy up some radio and let the DJ's have their way. Ah, too radical, I guess.

Strangely enough, though, KHJZ is not actually vanishing. They're going onto the web only. You can't hear it on your clock radio in the morning, but you can tune into it on the web. And their old FM frequency, 95.7, will now be given over to...."Hot Hits." Sigh....

Smooth jazz out, pop music in at Houston's 95.7

Houston Chronicle

CBS Radio this afternoon flipped KHJZ (95.7 FM) from the smooth jazz format known as the Wave to Hot 95.7, a contemporary-hits format aimed at the 18-34 demographic.

After playing promotional material throughout the day Wednesday, the station signed onto the new format at 3 p.m. with Hot in Herre, the 2002 hit by Nelly, followed by Don't Stop the Music by Rihanna and See You Again by Miley Cyrus.

"We see an opportunity to provide something that listeners aren't getting now from aging CHR and rap rhythmic stations, and we seen an opportunity for us to do something big and bold," said Laura Morris, senior vice president and general manager of CBS Radio's Houston stations.

Morris said the station will feature such artists as Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Gwen Stefani, the Jonas Brothers and Christina Aguilera. It also will feature listener interaction, allowing listeners to vote each hour for the most popular song of the moment, which will be played at the top of the next hour.

Morris said the smooth-jazz format will return later this spring when KHJZ launches its HD Radio signal at 95.7-2 FM. She said Hot 95.7 launched without air personalities but hopes to fill the positions as soon as possible. Seven on-air personalities left the air with the Wave's demise.

from the KHJZ website:

Thank you for your dedication and loyalty to Smooth Jazz 95.7, The Wave. We have made a lot of friends and memories in the last 5 and 1/2 years that we will treasure and hope you do too. You can still listen to the Smooth Jazz you love on The Wave by clicking on the "Listen Live" button on And coming in early May, the Wave’s Smooth Jazz format will also be broadcast on our HD2 Channel at 95.7 HD2. Just purchase an HD capable radio and you will be able to listen to your favorite Smooth Jazz artists for free as always! will continue to provide you with upcoming smooth jazz events associated with the streaming station and the HD2 channel.

Thank you again for listening to Houston's Smooth Jazz The Wave, now at!

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