The station formerly known as "The Breeze" has dropped its soft jazz programming in favor of pop hits from the past 50 years. More of The Beatles and Cher, less George Benson and Chuck Mangione. If you have an opinion, they're running a poll on their Web site purporting to seek listener input. They've also hinted at an announcement coming mid-September.
It's only the second time Alaska's oldest FM station has gone though a major programming overhaul in its 59 years. At first it carried mostly classical music and educational shows, becoming increasingly easy-listening. For a while, it largely simulcast with sister station KBYR AM, which was then running an adult contemporary format.
"The Breeze's" lineup, introduced in 1988, was unique in the Anchorage market, a mix of mellow jazz, jazzy pop and new age fare. It entered the market niche abandoned by Jay Perry's straight-up jazz and blues station, KJZZ (now KDBZ, 102.1, "The Buzz"), which broadcast from 1972 to 1980, and short-lived KKGR (now KBFX, 100.5, "The Fox"), which sometimes included Windham Hill artists and very light jazz in its "gourmet rock" programming from 1985-87.
Throughout its existence, "The Breeze" struggled for both listeners and advertisers in a market now laden with at least 20 FM signals. In one of the more bizarre moves in local broadcast history, Rick Rydell briefly co-hosted morning drive on the station, between being inexplicably let go at KBFX, where he had been the town's number one rock jock, and his present gig as talk show icon on KENI. His energetic personality proved inimicable with the wallpapery music, however; even the estimable skills of Alaska's top-rated announcer in multiple formats couldn't keep radios tuned to the station.
-- Mike Dunham