The Light Programme: The New Age Wave

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Thursday, 18 December, 2008

Light Music” can be defined as melodic, instrumental music and although its traditional form was derived from the music of the seaside bands of the late 19th century, there is plenty of music that fits that definition even if its roots are in jazz (for the most part) and its heritage quite different.

The music we are referring to is often termed “New Age”. It came to the fore in the mid-1980s, paralleling the rise of labels like Windham Hill, with radio stations like Metromedia’s KTWV in Los Angeles and KLRS in Santa Cruz. Ultimately the field (or at least the radio stations) morphed into “Smooth Jazz” – which perhaps had a rather broader appeal but at the same time rather lost the uniqueness and spirit that had originally typified the music.

Wikipedia says of KTWV, “The station changed [from rock station KMET after 14 February 1987] to a New Age Music/Soft Rock/Contemporary Jazz format with the nickname ‘The Wave’. The initial focus of this new format was primarily non-vocal new age music but over the years, the station moved to more of a smooth jazz sound. …The Wave had the title of being the first NAC station in the country but other media writers disagree with actually giving that title to KLRS (Colors) in Santa Cruz, CA which went on the air one month after The Wave – but KLRS played a true New Age music format thus becoming the first station in North America to debut a true New Age format until its demise in 1990.”

Today’s programme includes primarily (but not exclusively) the kind of music and artists that you might have heard on KTWV during a day in the second half of the 1980s when, in the view of many listeners from that time, it was at its best. It includes some of the station’s Wave Aid AIDS charity fundraising albums and a wide range of artists from the period.

Elrik Merlin notes: “As a visitor to Southern California from the 1970s and a resident for a decade until five years ago, it’s curious that the 94.7 spot on the FM dial provided my personal soundtrack for Southern California for many years. In the 70s and early 80s I listened to rock station KMET — in preference to KLOS and ‘that KROQ across town’ – and I remember the ‘St Valentine’s Day massacre’ in 1987 when the station, having lost touch with its audience (arguably as a result of bringing in East Coast consultants), became ‘The Wave’ and introduced the new format. Times were changing, yet my own tastes were always broadening too, and I enjoyed the new station a great deal.

In additional to Wave artists we’re including today the music of a personal friend, keyboardist and Los Angeles resident Sandy Owen, with a spread of his work over a quarter of a century and including two of his haunting solo albums, one of Christmas carols and the other his atmospheric One Late Hour With A Steinway, originally played live on the air.”

• From the Library is produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Caledon Library in Second Life. Today’s programme was produced by Elrik Merlin.

For more information on the Caledon Library, current exhibits and the work of Second Life reference libraries in general, please visit the Caledon Library Web site, or one of their locations in-world.

You can listen now at http://music.radioriel.org — the ideal URL for you to use in your home parcel media address in-world — or simply visit any Caledon Library branch in-world and press Play on your embedded music player. (If you want to listen off-world, eg in Winamp or iTunes, and the above address doesn’t work for you, click here.)

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