Monday, April 6, 2009

It’s Oldies Full Force for 106.7

You have to hand it to Paul O’Malley, Mark Richards and all the other Citadel GM’s and PD’s who have had to live with the cards dealt to them by Farid Suleman. Their once proud talent rosters have been stripped to the core while Citadel hangs on for dear life.

Eagle 106.7’s (WYAY-FM’s) 2008 flip from Country to True Oldies made some sense. For one thing, the station’s reason for being, flanking Kicks 101.5, had been taken away by The Bull. (Apparently, Mr. Suleman was not familiar with the concept of flanking anyway.) But the big reason for the switch to True Oldies was that it was cheap and therefore music to the ears of the Citadel chief.

It’s been years since radio stations owned by networks were saddled with network obligations that did not fit a station’s format. However, Citadel changed all that last year, requiring its True Oldies stations in Atlanta and Washington, DC to start the day with Imus. Ad agency network radio buyers are reluctant to place their clients on syndicated shows not broadcast in the top markets. In this case, the Imus revenue potential took precedence over establishing the oldies format with a morning show.

The True Oldies outlets in Atlanta and Washington became creative after a while. They cut the Imus show into snippets, airing key segments as well as commercials but leaving out a lot. They replaced the left-out portions with…True Oldies. This seemed to upset the Imus aficionados and not really satisfy the Oldies lovers.

True Oldies 106.7 got the big break that it was looking for when WCFO-AM (1160) agreed to carry Imus starting on Monday (April 13). WCFO is unique in that it has probably the worst 50,000-watt signal in the U.S. Imus, though, will be an excellent addition to 1160, whose format is a collection of second-hand talk hosts.

Do network radio buyers care that Imus will be on a station with no ratings? Not really. After all, WCFO will give the show an Atlanta affiliate.

Starting Monday, the True Oldies afternoon show with Freddie Brooks and Spiff Carner will shift to mornings, a move that I’m sure is making them ecstatic. I just hope Citadel will be able to afford to keep a local show in PM drive. After having a local show there, just extending the shift of the overexposed and canned-sounding Scott Shannon would be a letdown to listeners though where else would they turn for their oldies fix?

If True Oldies goes with a local show in the afternoon, Steve Boomer Sutton, who wants badly to get back on the air, is a logical candidate. I doubt any True Oldies live talent is a full-time employee, including the morning guys, given Citadel’s austerity mantra.

FM Translators Hit the Market
When move-ins were happening in the 1990’s, stations were clawing each other to get onto the money-making Atlanta airwaves. Now, with move-in frequencies pretty much taken, radio companies are finding new ways to get in on the action. Last week, two new translators were heard on the air.

Streetz 102-9 is a hip-hop music machine with 170 watts from an antenna perched on the original New Street tower. The FCC’s website reports that it’s owned by Radio Assist Ministry. Somehow, Clarke Atlanta University, which owns WCLK-FM, has been involved in all this but is definitely not the owner. And another wrinkle is that Radio One is reportedly suing former R1 programmer Steve Hegwood, whom the company believes has been unofficially consulting Streetz. Still another rumor is that former Radio One/Atlanta GM Wayne Brown will become GM.

An FM translator by definition must translate, in other words duplicate another FM station. Therefore, Streetz 102-9 has leased space from Clear Channel on one of WWVA-FM’s (105.7's) HD channels.

Cumulus Media Partners’ new translator at 97.9 has been testing over the past week, carrying sister station Rock 100.5. The new facility has 250 watts from the newer Richland plant. According to sources, 97.9 will bring back Alternative Rock as 97.9X.

And what will it translate? It will duplicate the programming on one of 100.5’s HD channels.

What is Cumulus’ thinking here? I’m guessing the company will sell 100.5 and 97.9 in combo, with 97.9 contributing the younger end of a male buy. But I’m wondering whether 100.5 will be forced to modify its music so it won’t be going head-to-head with the Active Rock portion of its playlist.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to email me at

Roddy Freeman

Link to Rodney Ho’s AJC Radio & TV Blog:

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