Changes have been made in programming, staff and the offices for K-Jewel since the local radio station went on the air April 29, 1994. Owner John Ostlund calls the latest change for KJWL (FM, 99.3) the biggest yet.
"The industry has been doing research for decades and every piece of research done on a radio audience says the same things. The audience continually says they want fewer commercials. They want more music. They want less unnecessary DJ chit-chat," Ostlund says. "The audience not only wants fewer commercials, they want less commercial breaks. So, we thought for the 20th anniversary, it was the perfect time to update the brand of K-Jewel."
Ostlund is cutting the time devoted to commercials in each hour in half. Instead of 10 minutes being set aside, there will be only five minutes of commercials, and no break will run more than one minute.
Also, the station no longer will be known as K-Jewel. It will now be called Jewel FM. The changes begin Saturday and will be marked by Jewel FM's sponsored appearance of Andy Grammer at Springtini.
Ostlund is gambling that he will be able to generate the same amount of income with half the amount of advertising. His pitch: Commercials will get more attention because they won't be grouped in large packages. He points to a local station that featured 13 commercials and promotional spots in one break. This plan works if local advertisers agree it's worth the extra cost to make sure their advertisement gets solo attention.
This approach is less a reaction to competition from other local radio stations and more of an assault in the ways people now listen to music — from satellite services to personal recording devices — where there is little disruption in the music. Jewel FM will play 55 minutes of music hourly.
Describing the format of music played on Jewel FM is a little difficult for Ostlund, who has spent the past 18 months coming up with a hybrid format.
"The music we are going to play defies a format category," Ostlund says. "We've defined it as where Bruno Mars and Jason Mraz and John Meyer collide with Coffee House. It's a folk, pop, rock, singer-songwriter format with an emphasis on acoustic. We will play an occasional classic like Eric Clapton.
"We will never play fewer than 14 songs in an hour."
The plan is to keep interruptions at a minimum. Along with fewer commercials, breaks for news, weather and traffic reports will be kept to a minimum.
Listeners also will be teased into staying through the short commercial breaks by the on-air staff. To handle the on-air duties, Ostlund has put together the team of Bruce Campbell in the mornings, Kristin K at mid-days and Mike Brady in the afternoons. Longtime local radio personality Leslie Davis will host the "Diamonds After Dark" evening programming. Davis will debut Saturday night.
Jim Roberts and Christian Lukens will be heard on the weekends.
Ostlund adds the moves at Jewel FM are just the start of changes he has planned for his radio stations, which also includes KYNO (AM 1430). In November of 2012, Ostlund partnered with Chris Pacheco, who owns two ESPN franchises — at 940 AM and 790 AM — to create One Putt Broadcasting.
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