Founded by a clergyman, the station sparked a revolution and led a renaissance in European radio
Eighteen years after Belgian soul and jazz station CROOZE FM started broadcasting on 104.2 FM, the station is now getting a second life as CROOZE with a DAB+ channel covering Brussels and the Flanders region.
In 2004, CROOZE FM, founded by radio veteran Frank Leysen, was the new kid on the block, offering a unique mix of smooth jazz, soul, funk, Latin and R&B music. The station rapidly gained popularity, not least because of its 24/7 music-only format. The station also started broadcasting in the cities of Ghent (106.4 MHz) and Brussels (106.5 MHz), in addition to streaming content on the station’s website.
In 2017, when the Flemish government launched a new FM frequency allocation round, CROOZE FM’s frequency became part of a “network frequency batch” and was awarded to Topradio. CROOZE FM decided not to renew its application — the available frequencies for Antwerp (10 to 100 watts) were too limited for CROOZE FM’s plans, so it continued broadcasting online.
When Leysen wanted to pass the torch and considered stopping the streaming broadcasts he contacted entrepreneur Raf Geudens with the idea of ensuring the station’s future. A longtime fan of the station, Geudens jumped at the opportunity. Two months ago, the project resumed operations headed by Geudens under the umbrella of CROOZEmedia bv.
Breathing life into the format
“I have known CROOZE since their early days,” Geudens said. “The musical concept is special and accessible and has gained a strong reputation with a broad audience and musicians and music professionals in Belgium and abroad.”
Backed by Geudens, CROOZE returned to the (digital) airwaves on Easter Monday. “The last months, we have been working with a team of enthusiastic collaborators to get CROOZE on DAB+,” commented Leysen, who remains with CROOZE as a consultant. “CROOZE is now available on DAB+ in addition to our five thematic web streams on www.CROOZE.eu.”
“CROOZE’s program content is entirely produced in the cloud,” added Leysen. “Our infrastructure consists of three powerful servers in a Hetzner data center in Germany. mAirlist radio automation playout software handles all the music content and advertising. I’ve been using mAirlist since 2015; it’s a highly reliable tool. Although our strictly-music format is automated, our playlists are ‘man-made.’ We’ve installed Thimeo Stereo Tool audio processing software for the DAB+ output, created a new website and streaming server and given our station jingles a fresh approach — no sound beds, just voice announcements.”
Both Geudens and Leysen are convinced that CROOZE’s no-speech format and unique musical style will offer an attractive platform for advertisers in the higher brand range. A new payoff, “Enjoy the Difference”, strengthens CROOZE’s strategy for the future.