Entercom President/CEO David Field loves Alternative music so much that he attended the entire three-day Lollapalooza festival in Chicago from August 2-5, 2018.
Now, on his visits to the Big Apple and Big D, he need not stream one of his company’s out-of-market stations to enjoy the sounds of such beloved acts as Soundgarden or Foo Fighters.
For the first time in six years, the biggest media market in the U.S. has an Alternative station. And, for former listeners of WXRK-FM 92.3 in New York, it’s a trip back home, of sorts.
That’s because WBMP-FM 92.3 brought its 8 1/2-year old CHR/Pop “AMP” presentation to an end in Gotham on Friday morning, replacing it with “ALT 92.3 FM, New York’s New Alternative.”
Meanwhile, Entercom at 10am Central shifted KVIL-FM 103.7 in Dallas-Fort Worth from CHR/Pop and its “AMP” branding to Alternative — as “ALT 103.7, DFW’s New Alternative.”
It’s an interesting and brassy move for Entercom, as “ALT” is a brand used by iHeartMedia across the U.S. Could a potential legal battle result from Entercom’s choice of branding in two big markets?
Time will tell, as the “Alternative Project” earlier this week was planted by iHeartMedia on its WAXQ-104.3 HD3 signal in an attempt to establish its national brand in the Big Apple and perhaps make Entercom rethink its name for WBMP’s new format.
WBMP’s inaugural 10am hour included “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, “Like A River” by current artist Bishop Briggs, and “Mr. Brightside” by Killers.
Entercom says WBMP’s new presentation will feature “an expertly curated playlist with local, informed discovery.” It then said the same thing of KVIL, which has seen AC and Hot AC presentations before a full-on shift to CHR/Pop in August 2016.
Streaming audio for WBMP is available at an as-yet updated alt923radio.com, which still featured the old “AMP” logo as of 10:30am Eastern Friday. Similarly, KVIL’s streaming audio can be accessed at alt1037radio.com.
“In a city where alternative music is a way of life, we are thrilled to finally fill the void in radio in New York City,” said Pat Paxton, Entercom’s President of Programming. “With the launch of ALT 92.3, we will cater to the passionate audience who have helped define the genre for decades – and we couldn’t be more excited to turn up the volume.”
The last time the Alternative format aired in New York was at then-Emmis WRXP-FM 101.9 (now WFAN-FM). It aired from April 2008-July 2011.
New Yorkers, however, are very familiar with the 92.3 MHz signal as being the home of Alternative music. With Howard Stern in morning drive, the former WXRK-FM — “K-Rock” — shifted from Classic Rock to Alternative on Jan. 5, 1996, and stuck with the format until Dec. 16, 2005 — when Stern hosted his final radio broadcast before joining Sirius XM.
From May 2007-March 2009, the “K-Rock” brand and Alternative format returned, replacing the FM Talk “Free FM” presentation used following Stern’s departure.
Speaking of KVIL, Paxton added, “We are thrilled to bring alternative back to Dallas-Ft. Worth. “With the launch of ALT 103.7, we will cater to the core audience who helped define the genre for decades – and we couldn’t be more excited to rewrite history.”
CHICAGO FM ‘JAMS’ TO THROWBACKS
An embrace of Alternative in markets with consumer holes wasn’t the only move Entercom made following its closing of the CBS Radio merger.
In the Windy City, Classic Hits WJMK-FM “104.3 K-Hits” jettisoned its presentation to become “The New 104.3 JAMS, Chicago’s #1 for Throwbacks.”
The format is Classic Hip-Hop and R&B, and debuted at 11am Central. Streaming is available at 1043jams.com.
Entercom says the new WJMK format “will capture the essence of Chicago from when the Bulls won six NBA championships, to when locals like Oprah and Barack Obama became homegrown heroes.”
Paxton said, “The time has come to usher in a brand new chapter in Chicago radio — a station that is designed by Chicagoans exclusively for Chicago. Hip-hop and R&B always makes you feel a certain way. The memories will come back to you immediately.”