“I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss you on the radio. For 13 years you have helped me ‘smooth’ out my workdays, and now that you are gone I have found you to be irreplaceable. Pandora SUCKS, [ChitownSmoothJazz.com] is flat without on-air personalities, the Smooth Jazz Network is OK, but you know it’s mostly recorded. I miss the personal touch of my hometown on-air [personalities].”
Since the format change took place at 87.7 on April 29 I’ve gotten dozens of notes like this. (By the way, “Dmadscientist” has been a listener of Smooth Jazz radio for more than a decade. She discovered the format when she lived in Detroit, where WVMV 98.7 was a powerhouse. When she moved to Chicago, she found WNUA, then WLFM.)
I can see where Dmadscientist is coming from. My attachment to radio began as a listener long before I became an employee of the industry. What got me permanently hooked on radio was the combination of music and personalities. It wasn’t just the songs. It was the voices of Fred Winston, Bob Sirott, Tommy Edwards, John Landecker, Larry LuJack and Bob Dearborn—back in the days of WLS Musicradio and Super CFL. It was Stu Collins, Chuck Benson and Connie Szerszen on WIND. Then, when FM came along, Tony Phillips on WBBM-FM and Bob Bateman on WFYR. The songs were important. But I could tell I needed to hear my “friends” on the air, too, because whenever they went on vacation, there was something missing, even though the songs were still there.
That’s where internet radio fails me as a listener. Sure, they play a lot of songs back to back, but it’s all so dry, so antiseptic. With few exceptions, there are no personalities on internet radio. And if I want a jukebox, well, I have my iPod.
Apparently, Dmadscientist and I aren’t the only ones who feel this way. Take a look at this article which just came out today in Radio Ink. It describes a study recently conducted by the USC-Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The main takeaway from the study? “That consumers turn to radio because they have a connection with their favorite personality.”
That leads to my final point, which might come as a surprise to you. You might feel a connection with me, having listened to my show for as long as you have. But I definitely feel a connection with you, too—through our emails, phone calls and face-to-face meetings at concerts and events. Having been on both sides of the microphone, as both a listener and an on-air personality, I can tell you that the “connection” they talk about runs both ways.
Our Smooth Video of the Day: A Chicagoland weather report delivered by Swiss keyboardist Alex Bugnon. Have a nice weekend!