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KUJZ-FM scraps jazz radio format, goes country.

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

At KUJZ-FM, Eugene's "Smooth Jazz" radio station, things weren't going so smoothly in recent months, according to Cumulus Media, the nation's second-largest radio chain, which owns the station. So Eugene's only full-time jazz station is gone, stripped from the airwaves as of noon Friday.

Enter "The Moose," Cumulus' replacement, an all-country all-the-time format that will bring a little more Garth Brooks, Waylon Jennings and Wynonna to Lane County. At 95.3 on your FM dial, "The Moose" will join locally owned Mc-Kenzie Broadcasting's "New Country" 93.1 FM as the only other country station in town, giving country music lovers an alternative, said Steve Ries, who joined Cumulus' Eugene cluster as marketing manager five weeks ago.

The move is not a direct attempt to compete with "New Country," the area's top-rated radio station for more than a year, Ries said. It's just a way to give listeners, and more importantly, advertisers, a choice, he said. "Research shows that (`New Country') has a very large following," Ries said. You might say Cumulus wants a slice of that "country" pie.

And listeners should not only keep their ears open, they should keep their eyes peeled, "because the `Moose' is loose," Ries said, referring to KUJZ's new mascot.

Cumulus owns six radio stations in the Eugene-Springfield market - the maximum allowed by the Federal Communications Commission - and moved all of them into one building next to Valley River Center about 17 months ago. Besides, KUJZ, Cumulus owns KZEL-FM, KEHK-FM, KNRQ-FM, KUGN-AM and KSCR-AM. Cumulus recently changed the formats of most of those stations, replacing local morning shows with nationally syndicated ones.

"Smooth Jazz" lacked advertising support, Ries said. "We were losing money," he said. And keeping the jazz format just to satisfy a small, yet loyal, following of jazz fans did not make sense, Ries said. Cumulus has been hearing from a lot of those fans since Friday, he said. About 115 calls have come in, and Ries said he was trying to return every one. On Tuesday, he was working his way through about 25 calls. "It's been tough," Ries said. "Jazz listeners are very loyal."
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Title Annotation:Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 7, 2004
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