The public radio KUNV 91.5 FM station recently won Beats Magazine’s “2022 Smooth Jazz Station Of The Year.”
On December 15 of last year, RADIO ONLINE, an outlet that provides the latest radio industry news, brought the news of the announcement to KUNV 91.5.
“We were absolutely thrilled to hear the news,” said Jason Beatty, operations manager for the station. “We were nominated for our support of jazz musicians and since we strive to entertain our listeners, students, members and the community.”
UNLV professor David Schwartz said the award coming from a public vote affirms the popularity of jazz as a genre.
“This is a great honor that vindicates all of the work that has gone into running KUNV,” said Schwartz. “Jazz continues to be a vital and popular music, and the fact that the award was based on a public vote affirms the connection KUNV has made with its listeners.”
Schwartz is currently teaching a course titled HON 420 – Jazz: An Improvisational American History.
In an Instagram post, the station said that they received numerous nominations from other local jazz radio stations and national broadcasters like XM Sirius, iHeart and the Smooth Jazz Network.
The station is a nonprofit that is currently owned by the Nevada Board of Regents and operates out of the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs at UNLV. The only other public station that the regents have ownership over is KUNR, which operates out of the University of Nevada, Reno.
Broadcasting to the Las Vegas valley, 91.5 FM specializes in playing smooth jazz and hosting musicians on air. Beatty says that 91.5 is called a hitmaker station and has also been designated as a Nielsen rated channel.
“Our influence on the smooth jazz chart is pretty robust. Every time we play a song, it accounts for almost a quarter of all of the smooth jazz chart play,” said Beatty.
Outside of entertaining its listeners, the station hosts contests and raffles. Much of their contests involve listeners calling in to try to win free tickets to shows. Ongoing raffles include tickets to an upcoming Future concert at the Thomas & Mack and movie tickets.
Currently, the staff for 91.5 consists of approximately 35-40 workers who specifically focus on the jazz station’s tasks. Factoring in the station’s two subchannels, Beatty estimates that there are a total of 70 workers at the channel total.
The station also has a number of undergraduate students working the board in order to gain hands-on experience. Daily tasks at the station include programming music, hosting guests on the show and scripting the weekly promotions.
General Manager, Dr. Ashton Ridley, said, “It’s truly an honor to win this recognition against these other fantastic stations.”
Looking to the future, the station hopes to develop their endowment fund so they won’t have to continue holding membership drives.
“We were very lucky to receive a generous donation from a nice gentleman from the community which allowed us to start an endowment fund,” said Beatty. “We have now combined his donation with matching funds and hope that one day we will be able to sustain our operations from the fund rather than through our membership drives.”
This recent award adds to a long list of other accolades that the station has received, including being named as Las Vegas Weekly’s “2017 Best New Local Radio Station.”