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News Archive: August 2005

August 1, 2005
As expected, Bob 92.1 in Sacramento has disappeared, replaced by 80s formatted Flash 92.1.

At 5 PM EDT today, the WOXY/WAOL/WAXZ trimulcast in Cincinnati unveiled its new name: "99.7/99.5 Max FM". It's unknown at this point who won the $10,000 for submitting the winning name.

In the timespan that the trimulcast went nameless (5/30/05 to 8/1/05), Variety Hits stations in Chattanooga and Topeka independently chose the "Max FM" name. Question has already arisen on the Cincinnati radio-info board on if Clear Channel might give them some static over the name, due to the similarity between Max and Mix (CC owns Mix 94.1 in the Cincy market). There's no "Mix" station in Topeka or Chattanooga; there was once a Mix and a Max in Atlanta, but Clear Channel owned both, so it was immaterial in that case.

August 5, 2005
If you saw a station with this logo, an American flag with "Freedom 104.7" written in front of it, what format would you think it is? Country? Southern rock? Guess again.

Tama Radio's WSGA in Savannah, GA (well, technically it's licensed to Hinesville, GA and rimshots Savannah from the west, but for the purposes of this site, we'll classify it as Savannah) flipped from Contemporary Christian as Joy 104.7 (using Salem's "Today's Christian Music" feed) to Variety Hits as Freedom 104.7. I've heard that the station flipped formats "four or five weeks ago", but I just found out about it today. I'll have more details on it as they become available.

August 6, 2005
Bob Perry tells me that CNN's Paula Zahn Now show will have a segment about JACK-FM and the Variety Hits format on Monday night. Scheduled to appear: Cousin Brucie (who lost his job at WCBS-FM when that station flipped from Oldies to Jack), Rick Dees (what does he have to do with the format?!?), and the voiceover talent for all of the JACK-FM stations (and some Bob FMs and a Joe FM, among others), Howard Cogan. I've e-mailed the show and encouraged them to visit this site to give them some background info on the format before the show. Additionally, I hope they'll spotlight the success that the format has had in the P25-54 demo.

August 7, 2005
How big has the Variety Hits format grown? It has a feature article in this week's Time Magazine (it's no longer available online). From the article: "Jack radio has spread to 17 stations... and has invented a format so widespread, it already has a name: variety hits."

August 8, 2005
In light of the passing of ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings (which will presumably will be covered on the show tonight), the JACK-FM piece on CNN's Paula Zahn Now has been moved to tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 8 PM EDT/7 Central.

All Access reports that the CNN piece was written and produced by former KKND/Seattle air personality Matt West, and that the story features interviews with Kevin Weatherly (Program Director of KCBS-FM/Los Angeles), Uncle Joe Benson (former KCBS-FM/Los Angeles DJ when it was Arrow 93, lost his job when it became 93.1 Jack FM, now works at KLOS/Los Angeles), Cousin Brucie (former WCBS-FM/New York personality, lost his job when that station flipped to Jack, now works at Sirius Satellite Radio), Rick Dees, and Howard Cogan (as mentioned before, the voiceover talent for JACK-FM and some Bob FM stations).

August 9, 2005
The CNN piece on JACK-FM aired tonight, and it was quite good. Besides the one error (listing Philadelphia among the cities with JACK-FM), it was factual, informational, and gave opinions on both sides of the format. Good job, CNN.

August 10, 2005
Clear Channel has put a Variety Hits station on in Louisville: 100.5 Louie FM. At noon EDT today, Clear Channel's Active Rock 100.5 The Fox (WTFX-FM) vacated the 100.5 frequency, replacing the Smooth Jazz simulcast on 93.1 WJZL and 101.7 WJZO (though it's only identifying itself as "93.1 The Fox"). 100.5 stunted with "Louie, Louie" and "Brother Louie" for two hours before debuting the new Variety Hits format as 100.5 Louie FM. The first song played on the new 100.5 Louie FM, according to yes.com, was "Piano Man" by Billy Joel. I'm told that Louie FM is commercial-free for now, and that it's playing everything from the late 60s to currents.

August 15, 2005
100.5 Louie FM (WTFX-FM) in Louisville has applied for new calls, WLUE, which would better match the station's name.

August 16, 2005
The latest addition to the list of stations is actually one that simply has been overlooked until now: 100.1 Moose FM (CKFU) in Fort St. John, BC.

The Media Articles page has been updated, with some new articles from the past week now included in there.

August 17, 2005
Columbia, SC now has a Variety Hits station. Clear Channel put its sixth VH station on the air (and its second one this month, following up on 100.5 Louie FM in Louisville) yesterday on 96.7 WLTY, replacing the AC format on Lite 96.7. It's now Variety Hits as 96.7 Steve FM, using the tagline "Playing Whatever We Want". Radio & Records reports that PD Gary Barboza remains in place for the new format.

FMQB reports in this article that Variety Hits stations (or "Jack type stations", as the article refers to them) have driven Classic Rock's numbers to their highest level in years, according to Interep's Spring 2005 Radio Format Share Analysis. The article points out that it may appear that Classic Rock is undergoing a radio resurgence, but in reality it's being boosted by the growing trend of stations (particularly in major markets) switching to the Variety Hits format, and the fact that Interep is grouping Variety Hits in with Classic Rock in its numbers.

August 18, 2005
SparkNet Communications (which owns the JACK-FM and PLAYING WHAT WE WANT service marks) is suing Clear Channel Communications, alleging that Clear Channel is a cybersquatter and a trademark infringer. Click here to read the SparkNet Communications press release about the lawsuit.

August 20, 2005
100.5 Louie FM in Louisville has changed call letters from WTFX-FM to WLUE, effective 8/19/2005. The WTFX-FM calls moved down to Clear Channel's 93.1 frequency (where The Fox moved as a simulcast along with 101.7 WJZO, which retains those call letters, at least for now).

August 22, 2005
CHUM Limited's 91.9 CKLY-FM in Lindsay, ON (Canada) flipped from AC as Y92 to Variety Hits as 91.9 Bob FM. The flip happened yesterday (8/21/2005).

August 23, 2005
There's been quite a bit of talk concerning a just-released study by Bridge Ratings concerning the Variety Hits format and the decline of TSL (Time Spent Listening) by listeners in the P35-44 sub-demo (Persons 35-44 years old) who say that a given Variety Hits station is their favorite. 67 percent say they listen as much now as they did three months ago; 23 percent say that they listen less now than they did three months ago; 10 percent say that they listen more now than they did three months ago.

Some people are trying to spin the data in one way or another, but the reality of the situation is that Variety Hits is more about Cume (Cumulative listening audience) than TSL. The stations and markets involved were KJAC in Denver (and Ft. Collins), KPKX in Phoenix, KJKK in Dallas-Ft. Worth, KBPA in Austin, KCJK in Kansas City and WWJK in Jackson, MS.

Active Rock 105.1 The End (KNDZ) in Billings, MT flipped today to Variety Hits as 105.1 Bill FM.

August 24, 2005
Thanks to Martha Spalding for taking the time to contact me for comments that ran in this article in today's Daily Illini newspaper. The only error was concerning the dying off of JACK-FM: not a single JACK-FM station has flipped. Two Bob FM stations did flip (as the article mentioned), and one Variety Hits station in Canada also switched formats, but none of those was a JACK-FM brand. I think that's an important distinction to make. The Canada station I overlooked when I wrote her back, so that was my mistake, but I never said that a JACK-FM had flipped formats. To read the comments I made in full, click here.

On another topic, the amount of misinformation and distortion concerning the Phase 1 Arbitrend amazes me. Remember when you look at the 12+ ratings information that the numbers are unimportant when it comes to the Variety Hits format (or any format, for that matter). Sales in radio is based primarily on three demos: P25-54, P18-49 and P18-34 (the P stands for Persons, aka Adults). 25-54 is the big one, since that receives the biggest money from the ad agencies. Those demos are also split between women and men, depending on the format.

Billboard Radio Monitor reports that Jack is down in New York (WCBS-FM) for the first trend, though it didn't report the exact P25-54 numbers. The article does get it right in that the station is going through something known as "cleansing the cume" (as in the cumulative listening audience in the 25-54 demo). In Los Angeles, Jack (KCBS-FM) is up to #3 in the P25-54 demo (posting a 4.4, up from a 4.3 in the Spring 2005 book); in Chicago, the format stayed flat at 2.9, though the ranking was not provided.

August 25, 2005
I'm told that the JACK-FM stations in both Dallas and Minneapolis experienced strong increases in P25-54 numbers. I don't want this to turn into a ratings speculation website, but with the misinformation that is coming from certain circles (which have it out for the format), I want to make it clear that the format has certainly not "hit the wall" or anything remotely close to that.

August 26, 2005
In announcing its new channels today, Sirius Satellite Radio announced that it will be debuting its brand new Super Shuffle channel when it expands its channel lineup on September 29, 2005. According to MSNBC, "Super Shuffle tries to re-create the iPod shuffle feature or the Jack format that has taken the radio industry by storm. The channel will feature a best-of music selection from various Sirius channels."

August 27, 2005
I've discovered that the Sirius Super Shuffle channel, which debuts on 9/29/2005, will be located on Channel 12. Presently, that is the home for Spirit, a Christian music channel (which will move to Channel 66 when the change takes place).

There's a Variety Hits station in Australia. It's River 94.9 (4QFM is its callsign; yes, I looked it up), located in Ipswich, Queensland, giving pretty good coverage into Brisbane. It's had the format for roughly a year, but I just found out about it. When I find out more, I'll add more to its page (which is forthcoming).

August 30, 2005
The simulcast partner of Burlington, VT's MP103 (103.3 WWMP), 93.7 WXAL-FM, has split from the simulcast and debuted as classic country US 93.7 (with new calls WUSX pending). Ironically, the old calls on 103.3 WWMP, WLKC, have moved to 105.7 in Bedford, NH, which was the former home of the WUSX call letters that are coming to the 93.7 signal. Confusing? Yes. But the bottom line is that MP103 is now a stand-alone station without a simulcast partner (which explains why the station was branded as MP103 and never played up the 93.7 connection).

All Access reports that Sirius' Super Shuffle Channel will feature songs from all 65 of its music channels, with information on the receiver's screen about which channel plays music of a similar genre as the song currently playing.

Copyright 2005-2009 Lou Pickney. All Rights Reserved.