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News Archive: June 2005

June 2, 2005
"That's not an MP, it's a YP, your problem!"
-Morton Downey Sr. in Boogie Nights

Another station has gone Variety Hits: this time it's 103.3 WLKC and 93.7 WXAL-FM in the Burlington, VT market. The station is now known as MP 103, an apparent play on the phrase MP3. The station will continue to simulcast on 93.7 despite the new name.

Late word out of Montreal is that 105.1 CKDG has added Variety Hits as "Mike FM" during drive-time; for the rest of the day it plays "ethnic" music. I hope to find out more on this situation, and when I do I'll bring you the info here.

The Cincinnati outskirts Variety Hits trimulcast (97.7 WOXY, 97.7 WAXZ and 99.5 WAOL) remains nameless for now until a name can be chosen. Adam Jacobson from Radio & Records told me that the initial reports from First Broadcasting that the "Bob FM" name was never used in Cincinnati have since been retracted by the company. That is a good thing, as I was sent an .mp3 of the sign-on audio, where the Bob FM name was clearly used, complete with the voice talent used on most (if not all) American Bob FM stations. With Salem's 1160 WBOB on in Cincinnati, First Broadcasting decided that using the Bob FM name would be too confusing, so it is now seeking another name for the station and seeking input from listeners.

It turns out that the Hank FM name in Tallahassee wasn't chosen out of thin air. It's the name of the new GM of the station (and its sister stations, which were just acquired by Opus Media). Details are on the Tallahassee page.

June 4, 2005
It figures that the day I was in transit from Tampa to Nashville (6/3/2005) turned out to be one of the hugest days (to date) for the Variety Hits format. Infinity Broadcasting put JACK-FM on in New York City (on oldies 101.1 WCBS-FM) and in Chicago (also replacing an oldies station, 104.3 WJMK). Both format changes took place at 5 PM EDT (so it happened at 4 PM local time in Chicago). Meanwhile, in Chattanooga, Clear Channel flipped 97.3/99.3 The Max (WMAX-FM) to Variety Hits as 97.3/99.3 Max FM. There is some speculation that Citadel had planned to flip oldies GT 108 (107.9 WOGT) to Variety Hits, but that Clear Channel beat them to the punch.

Radio & Records reports that Jules Riley will become the new program director of Bonneville's Variety Hits formatted 106.5 The Arch (WARH) in St. Louis. Riley previously served as the operations manager at Citadel's Wilkes Barre cluster. Riley takes over for Bonneville market manager John Kijowski, who had overseen The Arch in an interim basis until a permanent PD could be hired.

June 6, 2005
Westwood One's SAM Radio (Simply About Music) debuted today. I don't know of any stations that are on board with it yet, but it did just begin. They have a .pdf file online of a sample day's playlist: here it is for you to check out. Notice that only two songs are pre-1974, and neither of those are pre-1971.

Infinity Broadcasting has created a position called "Vice President of Jack Programming". Now that's showing dedication to a format. The first-ever VP/Jack, according to FMQB, is Kurt Johnson. He will retain his roll as VP/Programming of Infinity Dallas, as well as Program Director of KJKK and KOAI in Dallas. Johnson has been the PD of 100.3 Jack FM in Dallas (Infinity's first Variety Hits station) since its July 2004 debut.

June 7, 2005
All Access reports that WJMK, the brand new Infinity-owned JACK-FM affiliate in Chicago, is searching for a Program Director. If you're interested, go to All Access (free subscription required) and look in the Net News section for details. One important thing mentioned in the job listing is that the ideal candidate "will know WJMK and/or its position and history in Chicago", which is interesting given that WJMK was a longtime oldies outlet.

WKOS in Johnson City/Kingsport, TN flipped from Oldies 104.9 to 104.9 The Peak in April, and an e-mail tip suggested that I consider it for listing on here. After looking up its recent playlist on stoneage.yes.com, it certainly seems to be worthy of inclusion, and the positioning statement of "Just Great Songs!" fits the spirit of a Variety Hits station. So it's going to be added on here, even though it's not a "new" station per se.

One thing I need to clarify: the Montreal station (CKDG) that is playing Variety Hits as 105.1 Mike FM during drive-time is a Greek language station the rest of the day. As Ian March pointed out to me on the Variety Hits message board, "an ethnic radio station in Canada is a language other than English, French, or Aboriginal." See, that's why I love the internet. Ian is in Ottawa and knows things like this that I don't.

June 8, 2005
Two stations have signed on with the new Westwood One SAM Radio satellite-fed format. First is 106.5 WKHW (licensed to Pocomoke City, MD), which is now known as Sam 106.5 FM. It covers the southern portion of the Salisbury/Ocean City, MD market. It formerly served as a simulcast of country 97.9 WBEY-FM, which retains its Bay Country format. Second is Chaparral Broadcasting's 102.9 KWYS-FM, licensed to Island Park, ID. Thanks to its 2,733' tall height allotment (no joke) at 46,000 watts, it has an 80 mile coverage zone. Granted, much of that is wilderness, but it does cover much of Yellowstone National Park. So it you like Variety Hits and happen to visit Yellowstone this summer, you can tune into SAM Radio on your trip.

I was remiss in not including a very interesting piece of information that Lance Venta posted on the Variety Hits message board two days ago. Lance posted that the Radio Business Report revealed that Infinity was beaten by a day to flip stations in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Boston to the JACK-FM format. The San Francisco situation I had heard rumored, and this reiterates those whispers.

June 9, 2005
There's another SAM station to add to the list: this one is 107.3 KNUJ-FM in the Lake Ulm, MN area. Owned by Ingstad Brothers Broadcasting, the station was formerly Adult Contemporary as Brat 107.3. On the station's website, it says: "WHO ATE THE BRaT?.... SAM DID!" It refers to itself as "SAM 107.3", without any FM designator after the frequency, which I suspect is what most SAM stations will end up doing.

June 10, 2005
SparkNet Communications, part of the JACK-FM team, has filed suit against Bonneville claiming trademark infringement for its "playing what we want" service mark by Bonneville on stations it owns in St. Louis, Phoenix and Chicago. This article from Billboard Radio Monitor explains the story in-depth. Bonneville contends that the suit is without merit.

June 13, 2005
Westwood One's SAM feed has landed its fourth station, as this morning Kool 105.1 (WKOO) in New Bern/Morehead City, NC flipped from Oldies to Variety Hits as SAM 105.1.

I've added 106.9 WKZY from the Ocala/Gainesville, FL market to the big list. The stations became a Variety Hits station a couple of months back, but I had been on the fence about them because some considered them to be an expanded Hot AC. But I decided to include them after much consideration of their playlist and their positioning statement of "The 80s, 90s, Whatever We Want!"

All Access reports that 92.5 The Chief (WCFF) in Champaign/Urbana, IL has added some DJs to its presentation. They are: Mary-Lynn In The Morning (5-10 AM), Lon Ray (10 AM-2 PM) and Jerry Morefield (2-8 PM) 8 PM-5 AM is listed as "The Chief", which I presume means that the station will remain jockless in that timeslot.

June 14, 2005
This article from FMQB takes an interesting look at the strong cume that Variety Hits stations across the country are drawing... and what is anticipated for the format for on down the line.

June 22, 2005
Two new SAM affiliates have jumped on board the Westwood One Variety Hits satellite feed: 106.3 KWUF-FM in Pagosa Springs, CO and 106.3 WQRM (in the Olean, NY market). Also, WKOO in New Bern/Morehead City, NC has changed call letters to WSSM, making it the first station in the country to change its calls to match the SAM name.

June 23, 2005
I was remiss yesterday in failing to include information on the new Variety Hits station in Albany, GA, 98.1 Zack FM. It's literally a new station, having just signed on the air.

Also, if you want to hear what Westwood One's SAM Radio satellite-fed format sounds like, you can do that (at least as of this writing) via KWUF-FM. Click here to listen to the feed in Windows Media Player.

June 24, 2005
JACK-FM is on the air in Las Vegas. At 3 PM PDT today, following an hour of stunting, Infinity's KMZQ-FM flipped from AC as Lite 100.5 to Variety Hits at 100.5 Jack FM. In a market-appropriate move, the logo chosen is the crown style, and on the website it has a Jack playing card. Here's a hint for Jack: there's a single 0 only roulette table in the lobby area of the Stratosphere, or at least there was when I was there in August 2003. Put a few chips on 24 for me, Jack...

June 25, 2005
Thanks to Bob Corbin from VARTV.com for the heads-up that WPYA in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA is now streaming online. I've also discovered that the same is true for KZBR out of San Francisco. Get the scoop on that on the Listen Live Online page, which now is updated to include the stations out of Canada (don't think I've forgotten you, my friends from north of the border).

June 26, 2005
I've fielded many questions from people asking about the big-names (Jack FM, Bob FM, etc.) in the Variety Hits genre. Now there's a list of the major brands available online, with timelines for each of the brands online. Read and enjoy!

June 29, 2005
This article in FMQB provides a great look at Infinity Broadcasting Chairman/CEO Joel Hollander's take on the flips of WCBS-FM/New York City and WJMK/Chicago. Referring to WJMK, Hollander said that the radio station "was bleeding" and that Infinity stopped the bleeding with the flip to the JACK-FM Variety Hits format.

Besides that, it's been pretty quiet this week as far as things within the format go.

June 30, 2005
I've removed 92.5 The Chief (WCFF) from the listings, as the Champaign/Urbana market station, from all indications, has become a Classic Hits station that simply brands itself with Variety Hits type imaging.

For that same reason, I'm not including the new 107.3 Jake FM (KRPX, requesting new calls of KJKE) in Corpus Christi, TX. While it has some elements of a Variety Hits station, it only uses music from the 70s-80s (with some 60s included), making it not fit the definition of a Variety Hits station.

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