Friday, October 27, 2006

The OMW FM Talk Watch Inches Closer

Just days after word that Cumulus Cincinnati station WYGY/96.5 is set to flip to a talk format as its country format moves to 94.9 FM, we get word of another FM talk flip in Ohio. And this one has already happened.

A simulcast of Cox news/talk WHIO/1290 Dayton has supplanted the "Point" 80s music format formerly heard on the company's WDPT/95.7 Piqua, under the on-air name "AM 1290 and 95.7 FM - News/Talk Radio WHIO".

The station talks about it on the front of its website:

Cox Radio Dayton announced today that WHIO now expands its signal coverage by adding FM. The station which broadcasts on AM 1290 can now be heard on 95.7 FM. The FM signal is 50,000 watts which is the maximum allowed by the FCC. News-Talk Radio WHIO features local weather, traffic, and news. Our award winning morning news program, "Miami Valley Morning News" is the area's only all news morning show with longtime Dayton personalities Larry Hansgen and Jim Barrett.

That "50,000 watts/maximum allowed by the FCC" thing is a bit of a misnomer. For one, as noted above, the class B station is licensed well north of Dayton in Piqua. It even once used to refer to its "Northside" status on the air. (And for another, that's not even counting big class C signals pushing out 100,000 watts-plus in other parts of the country.)

That said, a talk format with the stereo signal turned off could well be the best use of such a rimshot signal.

Like in many other cases, the FM station being flipped was not exactly burning up the ratings, showing up in the mid-to-back of the Dayton 12-plus pack.

Meanwhile, over at the website formerly devoted to "Dayton's Point", a large WHIO logo greets visitors with this message:

You have reached the former page of 95.7 The Point WDPT Radio. We want to thank you for supporting The Point throughout the years. The 95.7 frequency has become WHIO-FM. The great news and talk programming of WHIO will now be available on FM.

If you're looking for great music from the 70's and 80's please try our sister station 95.3 The Eagle.

We know this brings up our usual "when will it happen in Cleveland?" question, or for that matter, even Columbus. We know both markets have had long-standing rumors of FM talk formats, and both markets were apparently once very close to getting such a station.

But in Cleveland, it may be a matter of evolution over revolution.

Both Clear Channel and CBS Radio (once Infinity) have been the subject of behind-the-scenes rumors and rumblings of such changes here. But take a look at the result so far - both clusters have at least one FM station with talk radio programs in both drive-time dayparts.

Clear Channel accomplished this with the recent addition of Premiere syndicated morning show "Bob and Tom" to rock WMMS/100.7. OK, so there's kind of an asterisk here, because afternoon driver Maxwell does play music. But he's more talk-laden than most rock stations' afternoon shows.

Except for CBS Radio's WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock", that is, which features all-talk afternoon drive (delayed) team "Opie and Anthony" to bookend locally-based syndicated morning talker Shane "Rover" French's show.

But of course, this is different from this actual event: the traditional style of talk radio also migrating to the FM dial...the style heard for some 30-plus years, for example, on Akron market talker WNIR/100.1.

This is a different animal, but the train is moving just as fast as, if not faster than, lifestyle/comedy/shock "FM talk", with WHIO's move probably one of the first such moves in Ohio...


Anonymous said...

I wonder which station in Columbus would flip... could it be that WBNS's FM station could pick up the AM station (1460 The Fan's) ESPN and local sports line up. They already carry Buckeye Football, and the station is Hot AC. Perhaps. Especially with the extreme growth of county radio in Columbus right now. Curious as to others thoughts.

Anonymous said...

WBNS-AM' night signal (while coming from a fabled Blau-Knox tower) is a puny 1kW that can't make it out of the main city.

In fact, that is the reason WHY the OSU games are on WBNS-FM 97.1, given that the Big 10/NCAA wants them to play more night games than before (not including the obligatory bowl game).

Can't make it out of the city... so it wouldn't be a shock if Dispatch did a AM/FM simulcast. Eventually, of course. Hot AC is gonna die sooner than later, if not being absorbed into the "adult top 40" format.

- nate81

Bob said...

I was quite surprised to tune into 95.7 Friday evening and hear WHIO-FM, as it is now known. It's an interesting move for sure but I am curious as to how well it will work.

The signal strength argument is a good one. While the daytime strength of AM 1290 is good (I think they are 5kw?), the nighttime coverage is terrible, especially if you live anywhere outside Dayton. So it's a definite advantage to be able to flip over to FM if you like hearing Clark Howard, Michael Savage and other WHIO programming after sundown.

I will be curious to see what this move does for them in the ratings, especially in a market where Cincinnati's WLW usually places pretty well.

(I worked for WHIO Radio in 1996-97 as a part-time news anchor/reporter).

firebird said...

Cox did the same thing with talker WOKV in Jacksonville, FL. 106.5 FM is now simulcasting 690 AM

Anonymous said...

Ohio is in "Zone I" where 50,000 watts on FM is the maximum allowed by the FCC.

Class C (100kW) stations are only allowed in "Zone II" areas.