November 05, 2002

Longtime Houston country radio station KIKK has changed format to "smooth jazz".

The station was rechristened KHJZ "Smooth Jazz 95.7 The Wave" at noon Monday. Sade's Smooth Operator was the first song played.

The new station will feature Anita Baker, David Koz, Kenny G and Luther Vandross, along with classic jazz by Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock and Dave Brubeck.

"It's all about the mood. It's sophisticated, contemporary and very metropolitan (music)," said Laura Morris, vice president and general manager of Infinity Radio's four Houston stations. "Houston is a sophisticated, metropolitan city that deserves this kind of a mix."

Infinity has been successful with smooth-jazz formats in Los Angeles and Dallas. Morris said Houston was one of only two of the top 10 radio markets in the nation without a smooth jazz station.

While I certainly won't argue against a station that plays Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck, I personally will not run the risk of encountering a Kenny G. song on my radio. You have to draw the line somewhere.

I think the biggest effect of this change will be all the pickup trucks that have KIKK bumper stickers on them that say things like "KIKKup truck" and "Proud to be a KIKKer". I can't imagine any of them good ol' boys humming along to Sade, but in some cases the sticker may be the only thing affixing the bumper to the chassis. Something will have to give, and it ain't gonna be pretty.

I'm moderately surprised to see that the Evil Empire (aka Clear Channel) was not involved in any way. That's not to say that the general evil of ownership consolidation wasn't involved:

KIKK began operation in 1959 and was a country powerhouse for years. It regularly ranked as the top station in Houston. As recently as 1993, it ranked No. 2 among all Houston radio stations, just behind KILT.

But its fortunes changed when Westinghouse Broadcasting, owner of KILT, acquired KIKK in 1993. New management fired many longtime KIKK DJs and ratings plummeted.

KILT and the former KIKK are now both owned by Infinity. Though the purchase that started KIKK's troubles predates the odious Telecommunications Act of 1996, it's still a casualty of consolidated corporate ownership. Can any free-market libertarian explain to me why it's a Good Thing that a handful of companies can own all of the dozens of radio stations in a given market? I'm just not seeing it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 05, 2002 to Music | TrackBack

For years we have wished for a smooth jazz station here our fine city of Houston. We travel alot and it amazes us that Houston (the 4th largest city in the USA) did not have a smooth jazz station. We wished for the day we would get one like Dallas, Tampa and other cites we travel to. Today our wish came true!! Welcome to Houston KHJZ 95.7 you now have two new fans.

Posted by: Jim & Karen on November 11, 2002 8:38 AM

Dissapointed to find out about KIKK's demise when hitting my radio button 5. I'm not a redneck but some of the alternative country really is great, esp. Radney Foster, Dwight Yoakum. KIKK was playing these guys whereas 93Q and KILT won't. I personally will miss KIKK and for good reason. Just as Houston may deserve easy listening jazz, she also deserves a country radio station which will play more than just Garth Brooks and the other big guns.

Posted by: Minette on November 12, 2002 8:46 PM

Now, if only KHJZ would play some REAL Jazz, instead of the R&B and "SaxPop" that comprises almost ALL of their playlist.....

Dave Hughes

Posted by: Dave Hughes on November 13, 2002 10:13 AM

This "smooth jazz" station is nothing like the Oasis in Dallas. They play a variety of jazz, mostly smooth. Thus far, I have heard Michael McDonald with and without the Doobie Brothers, Christopher Cross, and Stevie Wonder - the early days. Do these qualify as jazz - smooth or otherwise?
Jazz is one of the best forms of music and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to tune to a station as opposed to constantly digging for more CDs.
One other point, the station has no live individuals - you know, DJs - and do not identify the music or musicians. How will this aid any artists in selling their art? And how will this aid the listeners in knowing what they might want to buy?

Posted by: Keith Mikesell on November 13, 2002 8:06 PM

I surfed thru the stations about 2 weeks ago and hit KIKK listened (soft jazz), have not changed the station yet.

Do you know KHJZ's actual email or web site. I would like to give them some cudos and advise. They need to start selling more ad time ( not that I like commercials but if they don't turn a profit they wouldn't be around very long.

Posted by: Jay Durel on November 15, 2002 8:20 AM

Thanks for all the feedback. I've posted a followup here if you're interested.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on November 15, 2002 2:12 PM

I've waited a long time for this style to return to Houston. I was so disappointed when 98.5 quit playing smooth jazz a couple of years ago. Then a few weeks ago I heard that 95.7 had changed formats and my radio in my truck hasn't changed since. Welcome to Houston KHJZ and keep playing it smoothly.

Posted by: Kyle Phillips on November 15, 2002 8:27 PM


Posted by: N on November 17, 2002 10:46 AM

At first I thought 95.7 would be a good station. I was wrong. The program is a combo of 99.1 shlock female ballad crap and an infusion of modern jazz. I see it as an attempt to eclipse the ratings of 99.1. Any station that plays Peter White, Boney James, then follows it with Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton and Earth Wind and Fire is not a jazz station.

Posted by: Ed on November 22, 2002 7:19 AM

I am very upset that the corporate managers decided to cut the only "Texas Country" we had left here in Houston. Now the only way I can here the Texas artists like Pat Green, Corry Morrow, Robert Earl Keen, Charlie Robison etc. is by CDs. As for people saying Texas needs to get "into the century" I believe they should consider moving out to California.

Posted by: Ryan on November 23, 2002 11:52 PM

sign the KIKK Petition- there's already 1500+ signatures---


Posted by: KIKK Supporter on November 24, 2002 4:50 AM

Hey, Houston, the format is called "smooth" jazz for a reason. The emphasis is on mood, and smooth is the mood. You want, uh, "real" jazz, flip your dial to a nice NPR station and knock yourself out. Besides, how many people are sophisticated enough to listen to "real" jazz, especially bebop and straight ahead? I'd wager fewer than those willing to listen to the smooth jazz format.

Posted by: Dr. Vivian Bell on December 2, 2002 2:37 PM

I am so glad that Houston finally has a "Smooth Jazz" radio station.

Now if the Smooth Jazz radio station would only play more smooth jazz!!!

Too many "jazzy pieces" from "Popular" catagory artists, and not enough "Spicy" pieces from artists such as "The Rippingtons, Acoustic Alchemey, Spiro Gyro, Fourplay etc.

I listened to my two other "Smooth Jazz" sources, Sunny 99.1 on Sat Evenings and Sunday Mornings, and Direct TV, Smooth Jazz channel, 839, and both sources offered more variety and more excitement than what KHJZ is offering.

As far as the "Jazzy" selections from popular format artists, and first I thought that was pretty cool, and I still do, but not every other song, or every third song.

It is as if they are afraid to "chase away" the "smooth jazz" deprived Houston public, so they have to water down the music.

And as far as Kenny G goes, I can see no musical reason why Kenny G. should not be played on a "Smooth Jazz" station, (it is the correct style of music for a smooth jazz format), but I totally agree with the "Off the Kuff" comments about Kenny G. I would be happy if I never heard another Kenny G selection EVER.

I have very high hopes for KHJZ. Even with their faults, it is the only FM radio station that I listen to, except for Sat evening/Sun Morning, when I am listening to "real" smooth Jazz on Sunny 99.1!

Posted by: Bruce on December 3, 2002 2:55 PM

It's wonderful to have our Jazz back, since we were abandoned by 98.5 several years ago.

Posted by: John Allen on December 12, 2002 6:39 AM

I agree it's not the pure jazz some of us like. The vocals are ok, I guess, but damn, It's better than nothing.

Posted by: John Allen on December 12, 2002 6:45 AM

sign the KIKK Petition!

Posted by: KIKK on December 13, 2002 11:23 PM

Thank you KHJZ now I don't have to listen to smooth jazz over satellites and the internet from other parts of the planet!! Now the "moo" in Smooth doesn't have to mean you're a cow--or a truck...

Posted by: Ervin Hughes on December 20, 2002 11:00 AM

Texas music MUST live on after the fall of kikk.K-STAR is now the only station I listen to when im not playing a Pat Green, Corry Morrow, Roger Creager etc. C.D.

Posted by: Chad on December 20, 2002 11:57 PM

Love: The fact that a Jazz station with good power transmission is in town. I want you to stay. So, let me tell you what I hate.
#1 - Commercials that Scream, Yell and what's that pseudo reggae plop *** ***** is patronizing us with? They ruin the mood, ambience and class of everything else you are doing. I know they pay the bills but not when they force listeners and businesses to shut the radios off because of the obnoxious tone and noise. Perhaps you could inspire some class in these guys like the Lexus, Jaguar, Saab and ilk.
# 2 - Don't get monotonous. Reel to reel is nice on the profit margin but whoever recorded it for you used to record reels for non-jazz formats. Repetitious and unimaginative. Take control, get responsive and listen to your audience or else you will start to lose them. Jazz listeners are a group all of their own, perhaps because they tend to listen and not just hear. 99.1's jazz format is impressive and worth studying (if not plain out and out imitating).
Back to Love: Please survive. I like you. Hang in there.

Posted by: Mike Orr on December 27, 2002 12:10 PM

I would like to revise my previous post to this forum. While I still argue that much of what is played is neither smooth or jazz, I would like to emphasize that it is still the best to be offered in quite some time in Houston.
In response to the complaint that the better performers in country - those that have yet to sell their souls to Nashville - can no longer be heard on the air. I would argue that KPFT 90.1 does on occasion play the Robisons, Kim Richey, Robert Earl Keen, and others of that ilk. You just have to be patient and tolerate the various garage bands and political commentary between good songs. Just as you must tolerate the hourly replays of Barry White and Michael McDonald in order to enjoy artists such as Boney James and Peter White.
And by the way, Doc Bell, I listen to Bill Evans, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Art Blakey, the Charlies (Byrd, Parker, and Mingus), and many other pioneers of what is known as more "pure" jazz as often as to anything else. It is available during some time periods on KTSU and can usually be found on the discount racks of most music stores - those that haven't yet succumbed to the pressures of the large labels. I don't consider myself any type of expert on the various forms of jazz or the true artists of all of those genres, but I am a true fan.
The station has improved by leaps and bounds and will hopefully continue along that path.

Posted by: Keith Mikesell on March 10, 2003 9:46 PM

Dear Keith,

Well, aren't you just a jazz enthusiast: I'm proud of you.

Music tests conducted since the format's inception have repeatedly indicated to Smooth Jazz programmers that vocals, easy vocals, often pop vocals, are both more readily recognizable and more comfortable to the format's listeners, especially newcomers. Put plainly, the station will never play 100 percent smooth jazz by such mainstays as Bonny James, Richard Elliot and Tom Scott, for instance.

Indeed, Anita Baker, Sade, Luther VanDross, Michael McDonald, Stevie Wonder, et. al, will continue to be interspersed in a day's programming. It's the business of not alienating the station's (oh, how to say?) less-than-sophisticated listener.

Enjoy this station. Dr. Bell assures you that with Program Director Maxine Todd at the helm, Houston's Smooth Jazz station will only get better and better.

P.S. And I do consider myself an expert.

Posted by: Dr. Vivian Bell on May 14, 2003 1:23 AM

Please post more comments, I will visit this site again soon.

Posted by: whois on August 22, 2003 8:27 PM

u can keep 95.7 but dont rob me of hearing john evans, roger creager,and up and comers like geoff spahr or f co. all im asking for is the oppertunity to enjoy an unapreciated local artist who can get some air time. its rather refreshing to hear people play on the radio who do it for the love of there music. give me a person who will write and perform there own songs and ill show u person who loves music and all that it stands for. as for smooth jazz everytime i turn on 95.7 i gag at there choice of music if u wanna call your self a jazz station at least play all the types of jazz, and ditch the kenny g horse manaure. as for me im out and off to my KIKKup truck to get my cd's time for some pat and corry

Posted by: chris on November 27, 2003 11:26 PM

So, i'm in some School and i was told that i was suppose to come to this website...i don't really know why...

Posted by: Harry on October 22, 2004 10:08 AM


Posted by: Joshua on October 22, 2004 10:10 AM

Choir is better than band, that should be a proven fact. Congradulations on making 2's! Ahahahaha....and I never make malicious comments like Diego and Ryan, I am a very nice person.

Posted by: JoJo on October 22, 2004 10:13 AM

KIKK stations owners should have never got rid of their DJ's. i dont really care about country but they said i was being malicious last time i wrote on here so im useing my friends name. i think counrty is not a good type of music to listen to (they said i was being too harsh to country singers/ listeners so i had to rewrite the paragraph)2

Posted by: ryan pluta on October 22, 2004 10:14 AM

KIKK stations owners should have never got rid of their DJ's. i dont prefer country but they said i was being malicious last time i wrote on here so im useing my friends name. i think counrty is not a good type of music to listen to (they said i was being too harsh to country singers/ listeners so i had to rewrite the paragraph)2

Posted by: ryan pluta on October 22, 2004 10:15 AM

KIKK stations owners should have never got rid of their DJ's.
(they said i was being too harsh to country singers/ listeners so i had to rewrite the paragraph)2

Posted by: ryan pluta on October 22, 2004 10:16 AM

so what's the problem?

Posted by: andy sam on October 24, 2004 5:45 PM


I'm trying anything I can to locate GAILL KEEBLE.

I understand he may have been in station managemant at KIKK am? fm? in the mid 1970s.

We worked together at KWWL WWaterloo, Iowa shortly before then.

Does anybody at your lacation know of GAILL KEEBLE


Curt Perry

Posted by: Curt Perry on June 13, 2005 4:01 PM

Well I was recently in houston, I visit there a lot, I also visit D/FW quite a bit, I'm from a small redneck town of Marshall, you guys are lucky to have a smooth jazz station, sometimes I ride to Dallas or Houston just to listen to smooth jazz, it's worth it ,rednecks just don't understand the relaxation of the smooth tone. Boy I wish I was fortunate enough to listen to the smoothest jazz in the south..sick of country, rock and rap. I was raised on smooth jazz.

Posted by: reggie turner on August 23, 2006 11:47 AM


I'm still trying to locate Gaill Keeble.
Please see my post dated June
13th 2005.


Curt Perry

Posted by: Curt Perry on August 28, 2006 9:17 PM

I'm so sick of those whiny alto saxes that all sound the same.
I thought jazz was supposed to be creative and unique. I can hear the same crap on "The Weather Channel" and get to look at pictures as well.

Posted by: YaYa O'Neil on January 13, 2007 1:38 PM