…and that’s the news. Now, back to alternative in NYC.
This morning at 10:05AM eastern time, Merlin Media flipped the formats on both of their Chicago (101.1 FM) and New York (101.9 FM) stations to 90s based Adult Hits and Alternative rock, respectively. Both stations had formerly been broadcasting News since last summer as ‘FM News 101.1′ and ‘FM News 101.9′. The news formats were meant to go head-to-head with the respective CBS Radio-owned news giants in their cities (WBBM, Chicago and WINS, New York). Many articles and opinions pieces can be written about why FM News didn’t work, why the approaches taken to the two stations was wrong, etc. Neither station cracked a 1.0 share in the Arbitron ratings for their respective cities and both stations were quite simply dead on arrival. I’ll leave the opinions and talk about FM News to elsewhere. Anyway, let’s talk about the headline of this article.
So as I stated above, alternative rock is back in NYC in the form of New Rock 101.9. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter from their website. Here’s some of their first hour of music (according to industry site AllAccess.com) -
BEASTIE BOYS/No Sleep Til Brooklyn
ALEX CLARE/Too Close
THIRD EYE BLIND/Graduate
OF MONSTERS AND MEN/Little Talks
BLACK KEYS/Tighten Up
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE/Guerilla Radio
It’s still way too early to tell if this will take off or if it will stagnate just like FM News did, but the hole is there for the format. Since FM News came into being, the only rock-formatted station in NYC has been WAXQ/Q104.3 which focuses on classic rock. The new 101.9 quite obviously states that they’re new rock and for most rock radio fans, that is the sound of glory. After the old 92.3 K-ROCK and 101.9 RXP both focused on classic rock mixed with newer rock, it’s a pleasure for those people to hear a purely new rock station. After having listened to the new 101.9 since around 11:30AM (it’s now 12:17PM), I have yet to hear a ‘classic rock cut’ that you’d hear on Q104. Everything I’ve heard so far has truly been alternative from the 90s and 2000s. For me, it’s wierd since I have been more of a classic rock kind of guy and listening to the new 101.9 is odd because I don’t recognize 80% of the songs I’m hearing. Every so often, I’ll hear a cut by the Chili Peppers, Queens of the Stone Age, Offspring or Foo Fighters and I’ll feel at home, but who is M83 or Alex Clare? I may be out of the format loop a bit with the newer songs, but for the people that love new alternative, I’m happy to see a viable radio alternative pop up for you (no pun intended). UPDATE: (7/20/12) – Merlin Media has since re-applied to the FCC to return the WRXP call letters to 101.9. This should go into effect within the next few days. The current letters are WEMP.
One more thing before I end this piece, and this goes back to the former staff of FM News (both New York and Chicago). It’s truly sad to see those talented people lose their jobs. Many of them came from the other news stations in their markets and wanted to be a part of something new and deliver news in the best way they could. The problem is that the people running the show at Merlin couldn’t hold up their end and the programming on air suffered. The programming was never as strong as their CBS counterparts and it showed with on-air mistakes, the light, fluffy news and lackluster presentation. I don’t blame the anchors, but I do feel for them as they’re the ones directly impacted by this format change. Sad to say, that is the nature of the radio business. Good luck to all of you, and hopefully you return on the air very soon.