Monday, June 06, 2005


RANDOM RANTINGS: Getting "Jack"-ed...

Last Friday, with less than an hour's warning to staff and none at all to listeners, Infinity Broadcasting (licensee of seven stations each in Fresno and San Francisco and six more in Sacramento) pulled the plug on its heritage oldies format at WCBS-FM in New York City, and a modestly successful adult contemporary format at WJMK-FM Chicago. Both were replaced with "Jack," the pioneering "we play anything" format that has become radio's hot new format.

Infinity has a bad habit of short-sighting local radio markets, pulling the format switcheroo on stations it considers to be underperforming -- usually a revenue issue, not so much a ratings issue -- against other stations in the market. Four years ago, it killed Arrow 93.7 in Sacramento in favor of what it thought was the next big thing -- FM Talk (the following weeks ratings brought news that the Arrow was number five in the market and had just unseated longtime classic rock kingpin KSEG-96.9 "The Eagle"). The FM Talk format sank quietly less than 18 months later.

Infinity has now flipped stations in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Dallas, New York and Chicago to "Jack." Rumors are starting to rumble that Sacramento, San Francisco or Fresno could go next. In Sacramento, there's already a "we play anything" station -- KBDB-92.1, known as "Bob." But with a weak signal and little promotion, many in the market either haven't heard about it or can't pick it up. KWOD-106.5 dabbles in variety, but keeps its "Version 2.0" more rock oriented. With "Howard 93.7" about to lose its namesake morning host, and KZZO-100.5 still mired in a self-inflicted identity crisis, could "Jack" be the answer? Could Fresno's KWYE-101.1, whose audience seems to be deserting it, be in line for radio's new hot item?

Stay tuned. This could get interesting.

The Informer

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