The following was written as a part of an application for a small-business loan by a group of developers in the city of Monroe.

“A jazz music club in Monroe would be a tremendously profitable enterprise. Currently, the nearest jazz club is 65 miles away; thus, the proposed new jazz club in Monroe, the C-Note, would have the local market all to itself. Plus, jazz is extremely popular in Monroe: over 100,000 people attended Monroe’s annual jazz festival last summer; several well-known jazz musicians live in Monroe; and the highest-rated radio program in Monroe is ‘Jazz Nightly,’ which airs every weeknight at 7 P.M. Finally, a nationwide study indicates that the typical jazz fan spends close to $1,000 per year on jazz entertainment.”

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.

The developers have proposed a new jazz club in Monroe as the ideal business for the town. They claim that Monroe has a high demand for jazz music and that the closest existing venue, Jazz 101, is 65 miles away. They also claim that Monroe has a large population of jazz enthusiasts and that jazz is extremely popular. Furthermore, they suggest that Monroe’s Jazz Nightly radio program is popular with listeners, despite poor ratings. These are all good points, but the lack of supporting evidence weakens the argument.

The developers claim that Monroe has a high demand for jazz music, but they fail to offer any figures or statistics to support this claim. It might be helpful to know which demographic they are referring to, how many jazz fans the city has, and whether the number of jazz fans has increased or decreased in recent years. A 2005 report by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), titled ‘The Arts and Economic Prosperity VII,’ stated that 78.8% of American adults listened to music at least once a month, and 18.8% listened to jazz music. Although this may not seem like a large number, it translates to approximately 97.5 million Americans who listen to jazz music regularly. Furthermore, the NEA report indicates that 16.5% of Americans listen to jazz music several times a day.

Given that the population of Monroe is 35,000, the number of jazz fans is 2,750 people, and 75% of Monroe’s population listens to jazz music; there are approximately 713 jazz fans in Monroe, a number that could easily be increased through advertising. The developers also claim that Jazz 101 is 65 miles away, but this distance may not be relevant to a jazz club. Many of the jazz festivals held in Monroe are stored in the town center, which is only 12 miles from downtown Monroe. Furthermore, Jazz 101 is located roughly an hour away from Monroe, so it is likely that most of the people who go to Jazz 101 live close enough to drive to Monroe. Also, Jazz 101 is a nightclub, and jazz clubs usually cater to an older crowd. Therefore, it is unlikely that many of the residents of Monroe would drive to Jazz 101 for a jazz club.

The developers claim that Monroe has a large population of jazz enthusiasts, but the NEA report indicates that only 2.4% of Americans consider themselves jazz fans. This implies that there are fewer than 100 jazz fans in the entire city of Monroe. Furthermore, the developers offer no evidence that jazz is incredibly popular in Monroe. The fact that Monroe hosts an annual jazz festival does not mean that jazz is a “hot” trend in Monroe; in fact, the festival attracts only a few hundred visitors each year. Finally, the developers claim that the highest-rated radio program in Monroe is Jazz Nightly, but they fail to specify which ratings survey they are relying on. The ratings of radio programs fluctuate widely over time and vary from one station to another, so it would be inaccurate to say that Jazz Nightly is the highest-rated radio program in Monroe. Although the developers do not have to provide direct evidence of their claim that Monroe has many jazz fans, they must at least present some numbers or reliable information to back up their claim.

The developers also claim that Monroe’s Jazz Nightly radio program is popular with listeners, but they fail to provide any statistics or evidence that supports this claim. The station’s website indicates that the program “is heard on over 200 radio stations coast to coast, including stations in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and San Francisco.” The NEA report indicates that 3.9% of Americans listen to jazz music, so these stations represent 2.5 million people. Jazz Nightly’s ratings on iHeart Radio have dropped from 77,000 to 67,000 listeners since 2017, so these ratings are likely low because fewer people are listening to the program, not because more people are tuning in. Furthermore, Jazz Nightly is not the most famous jazz program on iHeart Radio. That title belongs to ‘JazzSet,’ which airs at 7 P.M. every weeknight. Although Jazz Nightly has better ratings, it is unlikely that these better ratings are due to the popularity of jazz in Monroe; the ratings of both programs are likely the result of listeners who are jazz fans tuning into their favorite program.

The developers provide no support for their claim that Monroe’s Jazz Nightly radio program is popular with listeners. Instead, the evidence suggests that Jazz Nightly’s ratings are poor. Although the lack of supporting data weakens the developers’ argument, their lack of supporting evidence strengthens it.