CBS's Smooth Jazz Makes Way for Amp Radio

Though today’s official debut of Detroit’s latest radio station, “Amp Radio,” came as little surprise to most, there are a couple of notables surrounding the format change of 98.7 FM.

First, the decision to take “Smooth Jazz” off the terrestrial radio airwaves. Many thought one of CBS’s other Detroit properties would have been switched before WVMV and its 15-year success story. Smooth Jazz has also been a pioneer and innovator in online promotion. One would assume this will continue.

Second, the decision to not entirely eliminate the smooth jazz format. HD radio and online streaming will keep at least the station’s music intact for long-time fans—a good thing. The AOL Radio option, in fact, is making all CBS radio stations accessible virtually everywhere—from vehicles to handhelds. Unfortunately drive-timers Alexander Zonjic and Sandy Kovach will no longer be heard on the station, it appears. 

Finally, CBS’s multi-platform approach to teasing the format switch, including setting up a Web site ( and Facebook and Twitter pages. On-air promos drove listeners to their computers and cell phones and vice versa, building “buzz” and anticipation in the interim, including calls to watch for the “Takeover” vehicle around town for giveways and online photo opportunities.

Changing formats in a changing media landscape. CBS did this well. One hopes that the media giant also realizes that in order to go head to head with powerhouse Hit station Channel 95-5, they can’t forego the personality factor and should bring on-air talent on accordingly.