Jazz FM made Smooth to lure more mainstream listeners

Sherna Noah
Tuesday 15 February 2005 01:00

Jazz FM will be renamed Smooth FM after the original title failed to reflect its easy-listening content.

Britain's first radio station dedicated to jazz has not made a profit in its 15-year history.

While the name put off mainstream listeners, purists complained the station did not play enough real jazz. Guardian Media Group Radio (GMG Radio), which owns the station, has permission from the media regulator Ofcom to widen Smooth FM's output.

Artists such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, George Benson, Michael Buble and Diana Krall will now fill the daytime schedules.

John Myers, GMG Radio chief executive, said: "We believe this station has enormous potential and will soon be among London's top five commercial stations. As sorry as we are to say goodbye to Jazz FM, it's a sad fact of life that it has never made a profit in its 15 years of existence.

"We are caught between not playing enough jazz to please the purist and having the name Jazz FM which inhibits trial from other listeners."

Jazz FM, which was inspired by a Los Angeles jazz station, was launched in 1990 with an Ella Fitzgerald concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Smooth FM, which will launch in the next six months, will broadcast 45 hours of specialist jazz each week, featuring existing presenters such as Sarah Ward, Ramsey Lewis and Campbell Burnap.

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