Jazz by the Sea: KRML and the Radio Presence of ‘America’s Classical Music’
Atkins, E. Taylor, 1967--
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The last for-profit radio station with an all-jazz format was located not in a major city or center of jazz activity, but in Carmel, California. KRML-AM 1410 broadcasted jazz almost exclusively for three decades, before changing to an eclectic rock format in October 2012. This article attempts to explain the conditions that enabled this small but affluent community to sustain a presence for jazz on the airwaves for so long. Moreover, it takes a microhistorical approach that examines the ways that KRML’s history reflects the broader national trends in jazz programming. As jazz has accrued “cultural nobility,” a fancy for the music has become a social indicator of one’s level of cultural sophistication. Canonized as a quintessentially American expressive form and repackaged as a non-intrusive, unthreatening vehicle for tranquil repose and nostalgia, jazz thus complements the aura of refinement and serenity that Carmel residents have sought to create and have fought to maintain for over a century. Its jazz programming informed by such discursive shifts, KRML sought to sway listeners to accept jazz as the ideal accompaniment to the placid, laid-back Carmel lifestyle.