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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Jazz online not quite like it is on radio

By Burt Lum

I recently attended the opening of the Hawai'i State Art Museum on South Hotel Street. I could gush about its great downtown location, free admission and collection of the best works from local artists, but the inspiration for this column was listening to Gabe Baltazar and the sweet sounds of jazz wafting through the night air. It got me thinking about jazz in general and, specifically, jazz on the radio.

Just looking at the cross section of people at this museum opening, I would like to think that Honolulu is a pretty metropolitan — dare I say sophisticated — city. However, one of my personal, unscientific measurements for sophistication is jazz on the air waves, and though Honolulu has flirted with this concept for years, there's not as much as I would like.

Remember back in the good old days when Kit Beuret or Heidi Chang were doing jazz on KGU? How about that noble attempt at 24-hour jazz on KSHO? Several years ago, KUCD tried a "smooth jazz" format that I thought would be a guaranteed hit. That, unfortunately, was short-lived. There is jazz on KTUH (www.ktuh.org), but otherwise, the last bastion for jazz is a narrow time slot on KIPO (www.hawaiipublicradio.org), with Seth Markow, one of the few remaining torch bearers.

You probably can guess where this is headed, but all the same, I would like to hope that jazz will one day return, on a 24-hour basis, to the air waves of Honolulu. So I will continue to lament. However, there still remains one outlet: www.smoothjazz.com.

Like many Web sites I write about, I stumbled on this one purely by accident. I have it queued on my Winamp player and have been listening continuously since.

While listening to smoothjazz.com, I can almost feel I am back in California — Monterey Bay, to be exact, the site's home base. The Web site lists songs synchronously with what gets played on the stream, so identifying artists or CDs is no problem.

I would still prefer local DJs and the ability to listen during my commute, but all things considered, I am not complaining. ;-)

Burt Lum is a click away at burt@brouhaha.net.