WFAE adds jazz to its mix

Jazz fans will get their music back on the air Monday, but they'll need special radios to hear it.

WFAE FM (90.7) will add 24-hour jazz to a side channel on its digital broadcasting service. People with HD receivers – a new type of radio that allows stations to broadcast multiple channels – will be able to pick up the music.

WFAE will put jazz from a syndicated service called JazzWorks on its HD2 channel and move the music programming now there to its HD3 channel. WFAE's primary channel, which carries news and National Public Radio shows, will remain unchanged.

Local jazz aficionados lost their station July 1 when WNSC FM (88.9) in Rock Hill switched formats, deciding to pick up NPR and other public service shows.

“Our priority is to fill the void from WNSC's decision,” Paul Stribling, WFAE's program director, said Wednesday. JazzWorks was the company that provided the programming heard on WNSC.

Stribling said his station is studying the idea of providing locally generated and hosted jazz shows too, but such a move would be months away. WFAE still has a sizable music library from the days it carried jazz.

“Our ultimate goal is to program some of it ourselves to give it a local flavor,” he said.

Stribling said that adding jazz would likely boost financial support for the public station. He said he expected jazz fans to be drawn to WFAE's membership rolls.

HD radios have been slow to catch on since they were approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2002. Ford is making HD radios an option in 2008 models and other automakers are expected to follow suit.

Depending on quality, HD radios can cost as little as $50 at electronics stores or over the Internet. WFAE plans to make rebate coupons on certain models available to listeners who call the station or request them by e-mail at wfae@wfae.org.