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KJAZZ jumps in public radio ratings

People are tuning in to find out what all the jazz is about.

Radio station KKJZ 88.1 FM, which calls Cal State Long Beach its home, has been ranked as the fifth most-listened-to public radio station in the country in 2008 by Arbitron, a media research and marketing firm.

In addition, Arbitron’s data shows KKJZ is America’s No.1 most listened-to public jazz station, with a weekly audience of over 455,000 listeners.

Stephanie Levine Fried, station manager and general counsel for KKJZ — often referred to as “KJAZZ” — called the results gratifying.

“We are doing very well,” Fried said. “To have ranked in the top five across the whole nation against hundreds of other public radio stations is just great.”

Fried said a new methodology used to rank radio stations helped boost the station’s ranking.

“The new methodology uses a small sample, which allows better tracking of the audience,” she said. “As a result, we have come up with a better system to determine the rankings.”

KJAZZ has been broadcasting blues and jazz music from the CSULB upper campus for the last 25 years. In April 2007, CSULB contracted with Global Jazz Inc. to program and provide supporting services for KJAZZ, helping the station with some much needed fundraising.

The on-campus station has also found popularity among online listeners through its streaming option. Fried said listeners from all over the world tune into the station online at jazzandblues.org.

But because of the cost of streaming, the service is capped to 1,200 listeners at a time.

“Streaming online is very popular,” Fried said. “There have been times when we are maxed out because there are so many people trying to listen to it, and we always get e-mails from listeners saying they can’t get on.”

CSULB journalism professor Carla Yarbrough listens to KJAZZ regularly and says an increased interest in jazz probably accounts for the ratings jump.

“I think there is resurgence in jazz music,” she said. “People are starting to come back and appreciate traditional sound.”

Shana Smart, a senior recreation major, is an avid fan of the station.

“They deserve to be in the top five,” she said. “The music they play is great. Every morning I like to tune in to KJAZZ on my way to school.”

But some students still have yet to be pulled into the genre.

“I do agree that jazz is relaxing and soothing,” said Lauren Meyer, a junior communications major. “But for now, I would rather be listening to mainstream music.”

KJAZZ has been on a continuous mission to reach out to younger audiences, and the recent success with the top-five rankings do not leave them with the sense of a mission accomplished.

“What we do so far we have found to be very effective,” Fried said. “But that only gets us so far, so we are constantly trying to find better and new ways to attract younger audiences.”

Fried employs student interns from CSULB to try to expose them and their friends on campus to the station. She also organizes free concerts in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas.

In the future, KJAZZ management hopes to highlight connections between popular pop/rock artists to their jazz and blues influences.

“Artists like John Mayer have a blues influence to their music,” she said. “If we can show students this connection, then hopefully they may be influenced to listen to the pure jazz music. This is something that I really want to try break into the younger crowd.”

Top 5 stations:

KUSC

KQED- San Francisco

KPCC- Los Angeles

WAMU- DC

K-Jazz

One Comment

  1. Ratings are down to the lowest the station has seen in decades, care to comment?

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