Part of the shake-up is an expansion of the FM dial in the Windy City. Listeners can find a new station to the left of where the FM band normally begins. But it has a familiar format.
Clear Channel Radio on Friday blew up Smooth Jazz WNUA-FM and replaced it with a new Hot AC Spanish format called “Mega” at 95.5 MHz. After 22 years in the format, CC Radio said it is keeping Smooth Jazz alive in Chicago, with an HD2 broadcast at 95.5 and at WNUA.com.
But as soon as the analog broadcast of WNUA shut down, a new Smooth Jazz “The L” launched in Chicago. The station has the calls WLFM – but those are television call letters, WLFM-LP, for a low-power TV station operating on Channel 6 and licensed to Venture Technologies Group LLC.
Promoting its dial position as “87.7 FM,” the new station is being programmed by WLFM LLC, with veteran Chicago radio exec. Patrick Kelley as Sr. VP and Market Manager.
“One of our main goals is to create a station that has a very strong Chicago identity,” said Kelley in announcing the launch. “We want our listeners to be comfortable riding the ‘L’ all day and all night long from the first position on the dial. We’re launching a radio station that blends the best of what Chicago radio listeners have heard for the past 22 years with a look forward, featuring actual artists playing the music and serving as hosts during most of the broadcast hours. Our music mix will represent what we’ve heard Chicagoans asking for, based on feedback over the past 22 years. Just today, the outcry from the community to bring back Smooth Jazz has been tremendous. We have the most passionate fans and listeners anywhere,” he said.
RBR/TVBR observation: How long will this be able to last? At some point the FCC will set a deadline for all low-power TV stations to make the switch to digital. That would presumably put an end to any and all of the Channel 6 LPTVs operating as FM radio stations.