The Light Programme: The New Age Wave

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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