Unless this is your first time visiting SmoothViews.com, you hopefully
noticed that things look a little different here this month. After
three years, it was time for a little face-lift, and I decided to
go for a more minimalist approach.
Since publishing our last edition, four smooth jazz radio stations
went off-air; four in a string of stations shutting down, with no end
in sight. But in the midst of the site redesign, and while we
ponder the upheaval on the airwaves in earnest elsewhere in this issue,
I had an epiphany... Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) would call
it "your moment of Zen." Here it is.
Minimalism is great. At its best, it is like a great set of Bose
headphones; it reduces a lot of noise. It eliminates a lot of
superfluous fluff and takes away distractions. We all need more
minimalism in our lives.
Wikipedia defines minimalism as movements in various forms of art
and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is stripped
down to its most fundamental features.
Hmmm. "…stripped down to its most fundamental features"? Maybe
the smooth jazz radio format is just going minimalist! That doesn't
seem so bad, does it? Surely, 30-year-old pop vocals would be
part of that stripping down, wouldn't it? It's hard to think
of radio stations in major markets like NYC and Denver being superfluous
fluff, but, hey… who knows?
I guess the question might be, how minimalist can it go? It's
one thing to strip something down to its most fundamental features,
but it's a whole other thing to be stripped bare and become a blank
white canvass, or in radio-speak, dead air. I mean, have you
ever been to a modern art gallery and seen what looks like, for all
the world, a blank white canvass hanging on the wall? I usually
have two reactions to that. First, I think, that's art? I
wish I could make a living marketing blank canvasses as art! I
mean, it worked for the graphic artist that designed the Beattles'
White Album. But my next reaction is this overwhelming desire
to grab some paint and fling it on there!
So, at what point does smooth jazz, the radio format, become so minimalist
that it becomes one station with nothing but dead air? And if
most of the stations are broadcasting nationally syndicated segments
all day long, and the vast majority of tunes on the playlist are just
musical wallpaper, or ambient background noise, is dead air really
that much worse?
There is a bright side to this. I'm certain that I'm not the
only one who is standing around looking at that blank canvass with
an overwhelming desire to put something on it.
Here's your moment of Zen… grab some paint.