July 2002

Mark Zegan is the mid-day air personality at Smooth Jazz 98.1, KIFM, San Diego, California.

KIFM was one of the first in this country to originate the format known today as Smooth Jazz, introducing this genre of music in 1981.

Mark has been with KIFM some 15 years, spending time as Music Director and Program Director in the middle 1980s. Most recently, he was the station’s News Director and was featured on the KIFM “Morning Connection.”

Smooth Jazz radio has evolved and changed through the years and “Smooth Notes and News” feels Mark is uniquely qualified to answer your radio-oriented questions on the genre we all love.

Welcome to Smooth Notes and News!

Everyone involved in this exciting new endeavour are sure that you'll find this site a great place for information about Smooth Jazz. We hope to entertain you along the way, too!

To introduce myself – I am Mark Zegan, Air Personality of Smooth Jazz 98.1, KIFM/San Diego. KIFM has long been regarded as one of the heritage stations of the format, first introducing this music to Southern California some 20 years ago. I have been a part of the KIFM family, in various capacities, for nearly 15 years. This has given me the unique opportunity to watch the genre evolve to what it is today -- an actual lifestyle that surrounds the music. Smooth Jazz is no longer a "boutique" format, but one that has an undeniable appeal to a mass audience.

In each edition of “Ask Mark” – I will strive to explain how your favorite Smooth Jazz radio stations operate, through your questions. Think of it as a way to take a peek behind the curtain of your favorite station. Those of us in the industry have many forums in which to discuss our work. Now, here's a venue for you to interact in -- so, ask away! Or, if you'd like to express a thought or opinion -- that's all right too!

Probably the first question that could be asked is "How did Smooth Jazz get on the radio and where did it start?" A chronicle of the entire evolution of the format to what we enjoy today would probably fill a book, with contributions from Smooth Jazz programmers across the nation.

That first "spark" had to come from somewhere, though. Perhaps it came from traditional jazz stations in the 1970's who featured artists such as David Sanborn, Grover Washington Jr., Earl Klugh, Ronnie Laws and John Klemmer along with their classic material.

Going back even further, some left-of-the-mainstream progressive rock stations in the 1960's were known to feature contemporary jazz-fusion in their programming.

But many Smooth Jazz industry insiders would probably agree that the roots to the mass-appeal format that now entertains millions evolved out of Art Good's pioneering work in the early 1980's on KIFM in San Diego. Good can currently be heard on his nationally syndicated "Jazztrax" Smooth Jazz show and is the producer of the yearly Catalina Island Jazztrax Festival."

In 1981, Good was the Program Director of KIFM, then a struggling Soft Rock/Adult Contemporary station. Good's boss, the station's General Manager was looking for something that might separate KIFM from the pack of San Diego radio stations. He suggested that Good look into some "instrumental" music that he heard while on a ski trip in Aspen.

Good didn't know much about the music, but he dug into those Spryo Gyra and Pieces of A Dream records quickly. Very soon -- a show was born. A one-hour program, entitled "Lites Out San Diego" was offered nightly on KIFM in late 1981.

Slowly but surely, the little show found an audience. The program kept expanding its' hours until it aired for six hours a day. By 1987, the "Lites Out" sound pushed KIFM's adult contemporary music aside.

KIFM's success with contemporary jazz didn't go unnoticed. In the late 1980's KTWV -- The Wave -- went on the air in Los Angeles. At about that same time, a KIFM programming executive was lured to Chicago to create WNUA. More stations were to follow. Eventually, many programmers felt the format needed a name. "New Adult Contemporary" was a moniker that was tossed around by many -- but "Smooth Jazz" was found to resonate with the audience -- so, that was the name which was to become the industry standard.

And, as a postscript -- at the recent National Smooth Jazz Awards in San Diego, Art Good was presented with an Industry Achievement Award for his contributions to Smooth Jazz over the past twenty years. To those of us who have worked with Good -- and those who have enjoyed Smooth Jazz all these years --it was an award that was long overdue.

When you’re in the San Diego area for business or some fun in the sun, catch Mark’s mid-day show Monday-Friday from 9am-2pm for the best in unique, relaxing music and start your week on a smooth note - join him Sunday mornings for his Champagne Jazz Brunch from 9am-2pm at some of the most scenic locations in Southern California. For more details, log on to

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© July 2002 – Smooth Notes and News