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News Archive: September 2005

September 1, 2005
All Access has an interview up with KZJK/Minneapolis APD Paul Kraimer. He has some interesting thoughts on the industry, including a great answer to the oft-asked question of "will the format go the distance?" His response? "Of course it will go the distance, it has proven legs over nearly 4 years." Well said.

Speaking of All Access, the site reports that Steve Chapman, who owns an online radio station in Seattle called Steve FM (which began in May 2005), has issued a cease and desist against Clear Channel for using the term "Steve FM" on 96.7 Steve FM (WLTY) in Columbia, SC (which began in mid-August). The station already faces legal action from Sparknet Communications for using the phrase "Play Whatever We Want", which Sparknet alleges violates its service mark of "Playing What We Want".

September 7, 2005
From Richmond, VA now has a Variety Hits station, as Main Line Broadcasting launched Liberty 98.9 (WCUL, licensed to Midlothian, VA) yesterday (9/6/2005). The station had been silent since April 2004, just a few months after its purchase by The MainQuad Group from Joyner Radio (the station had a country format before it went dark). The station went dark while it completed its move into the market (it now has full metro coverage), and now it's back on the air with Variety Hits.

September 8, 2005
ABC Radio Networks and Sparknet Communications have formed a partnership to expand and market the JACK-FM brand of the Variety Hits format. Beginning on October 1, 2005, ABC Radio Networks will gain the exclusive rights to create, market, and sell fully-produced and locally-integrated JACK-FM programming to stations in Arbitron markets 41 and below. In other words, ABC is going to create a JACK-FM satellite service, much like Westwood One has with its SAM Radio satellite service.

As of now, the only JACK-FM stations in Arbitron markets 41 and below are: Indianapolis (41), Nashville (44), Buffalo (52), Jackson, MS (122), and Aspen/Vail (unranked). There's no word at this point of any of those stations planning to switch to the satellite version of the format (versus having it programmed uniquely on the local level).

September 9, 2005
Rapid City, SD now has a Variety Hits station, as Duhamel Broadcasting's AC-formatted Star 106.3 (KZLK) has flipped to Variety Hits as Max 106.3.

September 12, 2005
A Chicago U.S. District Court has ruled in favor of Bonneville in an infringement case brought against it by SparkNet Communications. SparkNet argued that Bonneville infringed on its "Playing what we want" service mark with the use of phrases like "whatever we feel like" and "whatever we want" on stations in Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Phoenix. There's no word yet on if SparkNet intends to file an appeal.

Next week a California judge is supposed to rule on a similar case that SparkNet has against Clear Channel. In that case, SparkNet alleges cybersquatting by Clear Channel's use of the domain name for CC-owned My 94.1 (KMYI) as well as slogan violations at stations in Des Moines and Columbia, SC.

Variety 98.9 in Richmond has requested a call letter change (from WCUL to WWLB).

September 13, 2005
Connoisseur Media's WBBE in the Bloomington/Normal, IL market has signed on the air with Variety Hits as 97.9 Bob FM.

September 14, 2005
The Variety Hits format continues to grow. Lansing, MI now has a Variety Hits station, as MacDonald Broadcasting's WHZZ has flipped from CHR as Z101.7 to VH as 101.7 Mike FM.

September 21, 2005
At long last, an update (things have been incredibly busy for me as of late). To my knowledge, there's only been one switch to the format in the past week. KNLT (Walla Walla, WA) flipped from Oldies to Variety Hits as Bob 95.7 on September 15.

September 22, 2005
Paragon Media CEO Mike Henry told people at the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia that the Variety Hits format is serving as an antidote for some of the primary listener complaints about radio today. This article from R&R has full details, but Henry was quoted as saying, "Clutter, a lack of variety, and too much talk were all addressed in one fell swoop." Henry also pointed out that it is not an easy format to execute (which is something I've said all along), and that it requires stations to modify their entire business model.

September 23, 2005
JACK-FM is on in Fresno. Infinity launched the format there yesterday, replacing the Spanish format on 105.9 (which was Viva 106 KKDG). New calls KFJK are now in place. The station was Spanish as Viva 106 (KRNC), then flipped to Hot Talk in July 2004 when Infinity put Howard Stern on in a number of markets, which included Fresno (where he had previously aired from 1996-2001). When Stern announced his decision to move to Sirius Satellite Radio, Infinity began to change back some of the stations that it flipped to accomodate Stern, including the 105.9 Fresno signal, which once again became Spanish as Viva 106 in January 2005. However, the station kept Stern in morning drive due to contractual obligations... for what turned out to be the duration of the format's second run on the signal.

Much like WBUF/Buffalo, 105.9 Jack FM in Fresno will retain Stern in morning drive until Stern's deal with Infinity Broadcasting ends at the end of 2005.

Anchorage, AK has Variety Hits now (and I believe it's the first VH station in Alaska), as Soft Rock 92.1 KQEZ flipped to VH as Bob 92.1 on September 1, according to The station obtained new call letters KBBO-FM on September 16.

September 27, 2005
The latest Variety Hits station to come on the air is in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, as Bold Gold Media's AC 104.9 The Music Station (WWDL-FM) switched its calls to WWRR on 9/8/2005 and then flipped to Variety Hits yesterday at noon as 105 The River. Offhand, I believe this is the first (and only) VH station in North America to do the stupid "rounding up" thing that is a throwback to the non-digital radio era. That works with legacy stations and the like, but I personally loathe it for newly branded stations. I know the station used to be known as "Greatest Hits 105", but that was two formats ago. Anyway, you can cross Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (market #69) off as yet another Top 100 market with the format.

For a look at some of the bizarre e-mails I've received as of late, check out the latest entry in the mailbag.

September 29, 2005 reports that Envision Radio Networks is offering its "AudioXchange" prep service, with audio clips and sound bites, specially formatted for JACK-FM™ stations.

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