Music returned to AM 950 in Chicago with the debut of Avenue 950, airing daily from 6:00 PM to 5:00 AM. The Avenue is Jazz based, an inversion of smooth and traditional Jazz format models in a primarily vocal format. The higher ratio of vocals enhances the formats accessibility and also serves to make the format more AM-friendly for stations. The format has been testing in the Appleton/Oshkosh market (#135) on Avenue 91.1 since January. Listener growth and response associated with this station led to the decision to launch The Avenue in Chicago. The Avenue is programmed by Rob Moore, who has extensive experience in programming both traditional and smooth jazz, as well as alternative rock.
Unlike existing Jazz formats, this vocal heavy mix features a balance of both classic and contemporary artists, and a staunch avoidance of “easy listening” staples such as the 70’s and 80’s AC cuts that promulgate “easy listening” and even “smooth” formats of today. The format targets the 25-54 demo, as opposed to resigning the station exclusively to 35+. A sample of core Jazz artists includes Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Buble, Brian Setzer, The Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, Billie Holiday, Madeline Peyroux and other artists found in some Jazz mixes. These artists are balanced by Al Green, Jamie Cullum, Ben Folds, Van Morrison, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Tower of Power and other artists not often found in a smooth or traditional jazz mix.
The benchmark “Timeless Cool” is used as the primary on-air positioning statement, as it can be applied to both classic and contemporary artists. The Avenue seeks to be both current and classic. Among the Avenue hosts are renowned vocalist Janet Planet, who hosts “Planetary Rotations” and Steve March Torme, Jazz singer and son of Mel Torme.