With 2011 in the books, let’s look back at some of the best format changes of the year. To preface, these selections are based on the productions that led up to and/or came out of each change and not the actual formats.
Let’s look back in chronological order at our choices.
On January 3, 106.5 WMVX Cleveland debuted its new Variety Hits format as “The Lake” following a long stunt period of Christmas music and then teasing the new format with a broad stunt that played into the new format’s “We Play Anything” tagline. Frankie Yankovic wasn’t heard after the stunt ended, but the station kicked off with a song that tied into the market and never looked back.
WDOD-FM Chattanooga had kept its “Mountain” moniker when it flipped from AAA to CHR in 2008. Sometimes simple is better and this change simply emphasizes that the station plays Hits.
Like its sister WCBS-FM New York in 2008, WJMK Chicago made its return to Classic Hits an event. In a major market, a format change should be.
Entercom used the move of KMBZ to FM to refresh its AC franchise in the market. 98.1 KUDL was replaced by “99.7 The Point“, but what made this change stand out, is that unlike other AM to FM News/Talk flips of the year there was more than just a flash cut into regular programming.
Moving from Sports to Hot AC is not going retain many listeners, but “Live 95.5” Portland used all the usual tropes like “Newest Radio Station On The Planet”, space shuttle audio, and 10,000 songs in a row to create a production piece that fit the new format like a glove.
The debut of Cox’s “Hot 101.5” was all about taking out Clear Channel’s 93.3 WFLZ just like The Power Pig did to Q105 two decades earlier. Ruthless attacks on the competition isn’t seen as much these days, but it worked as the station surpassed its competitor in its first month on air.
In this era, its rare to see the staff of a station get to say goodbye. This is the first of three we will feature from 2011. Q101 was Chicago’s Alternative Rock station for twenty years and went out with a bang as the entire staff gathered to pay tribute and throw one hell of an on-air funeral.
While Q101 and others died, WHFS was able to return via a translator in Baltimore. If a launch package is supposed to set the vibe for the new station, this one went above and beyond as it tied into the emotion of the demise of its previous incarnation to celebrate the rebirth.
If Q101 went out with a party, WYSP’s was a somber funeral. Though the station had twice returned to Rock from a move to Hot Talk, this time there would be no coming back as the WYSP call letters were retired for good.
Taking place just two hours after WYSP died, WRNB moved to 100.3 and began stunting in preparation of its new format. The stunt was nothing original, but did what every stunt should. It generated attention using a controversial figure, tied into the beginning of the football season in a football crazy town, and most importantly got people talking.
We’ll let KRZQ’s former PD explain this one. If radio’s purpose is to spark something with someone, KRZQ did that and much more. It’s farewell enabled those that built the station over 19 years to get one last chance to thank their loyal audience.
Did we miss any that deserve to be here? Let us know what your most memorable format change of the past year was.