KSNO sings a new tune | AspenTimes.com
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KSNO sings a new tune

Sarah S. Chung

No, it’s not your imagination. And yes, it’s permanent.

KSNO radio (103.5 FM) abruptly changed its format Tuesday afternoon from “alternative rock” to the mellow sounds of smooth jazz.

Station manager Josh Behrman said the change is meant to target the more prevalent demographic of 35- to 50-year-olds. It is intended to accommodate a listenership that never really had its own station, he said.

“We’re trying to fulfill a specific need not currently being met,” Behrman said. “This is a definite change. But we’re not trying to dictate anything, we’re trying to fill a void. If we find that this isn’t what anyone wants we may reconsider.”

Behrman, who is also the general manager of KSPN (97.7 FM), said market studies indicated that there may be more potential listeners of smooth jazz. And despite his prominent roles at the two stations, he said removing KSNO from being a direct competitor to KSPN’s rock format wasn’t a factor.

“The bottom line is that KSNO wasn’t at all a threat to KSPN, and that modern rock was not thriving and we had to figure something else out,” Behrman said.

KSNO was never live and local. It was fed via satellite from Avon and now will receive its signal from Denver.

So what exactly is smooth jazz? Well, its not Miles Davis or Oscar Peterson; think more along the lines of Kenny G, Dave Koz, Sade, and Grover Washington, Jr.

KSNO program director Craig Koehn could not be reached to define “smooth jazz” in terms of what it means to the station.

But according to Aspen Times Arts Editor Stewart Oksenhorn: “It’s music for people who don’t really want to listen to music. It’s the most innocuous sound imaginable. That’s why you hear it in restaurants, stores, elevators. It’s virtually unnoticeable until you do notice it, then that’s when it becomes really irritating.”

Behrman said the response among listeners so far has been “extremely positive.” But on the streets of Aspen, people who formerly tuned into KSNO were less than pleased with the change.

“It’s terrible. I woke up, then fell back asleep with smooth jazz,” said Adriann Yanner of Aspen.

“I think they should take care of locals rather than second-homers who come out a couple times a year,” remarked Orion Niles. He added that former listeners of KSNO can stop by the Popcorn Wagon to get their modern rock fix. “And if you’re going to play jazz, play real jazz. Play Miles Davis. There’s good shit out there.”

But there is at least one Aspenite who thinks the switch is a good idea, sort of.

“I like it. But I think there should be more soul in the valley, more Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Stevie Wonder,” said Brian Harris.


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