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Chicago Gets New Oldies Radio Station But Can It Satisfy The WJMK-FM Refugees?

Analysis/Opinion

By

Sep 26 2005
Barely four months after Chicago lost its heritage oldies station, 104.3 WJMK-FM, Active Rock-formatted WZZN (The Zone) has flipped its format to – yep: "94.7 Chicago's True Oldies Channel."

In Radio, format voids are feeding grounds for sleek programmers hungry for a ratings score.

The station, owned by ABC Radio Networks, made the change at 12 noon today as management opened the door for a complete exodus of the old format’s air talent and programming staff.

Until drive time air personalities are put in place, the station is airing "Scott Shannon's True Oldies Channel” – an offering from ABC programmed by Shannon and heard on various stations on the network.

Shannon says the new “94.7” will offer a wide variety of tunes as opposed to the limited number of songs other similarly formatted stations provide. It almost sounds like a “JACK” for Oldies which is ironic since Chicago’s former top Oldies station, WJMK-FM, left Oldies behind in June to become a JACK station where listeners are promised a larger playlist - music is on “shuffle” and they’re “playing what we want”.

“94.7 Chicago’s True Oldies Channel” is hoping to fill the void left by WJMK-FM and a test of loyalty will now ensue.

WJMK-FM is not exactly dead and buried. According to its website:

The legendary lineup of Paul Perry (6am – 10am), Greg Brown (10am – 3pm), Fred Winston (3pm – 8pm) and Dick Biondi (8pm to midnight) are broadcasting live and direct on 104.3 FM WJMK-HD2, which you can pick up with an HD radio…The broadcast is also being sent out over the internet at www.wjmk.com, so you can sample the new radio station over the internet if you wish.

August 12th, at 10am WJMK–HD2 became the first all digital radio station in America with a live air-staff! WJMK-HD2 is currently broadcasting in high definition radio, known as HD RADIO, bringing you crystal clear digital sound quality on 104.3 HD2!

The WJMK personality lineup is a nitro-fueled list of well-known local personalities and the loyalty factor will be the first challenge for 94.7.

I worked in Chicago for a couple of years at the now defunct WFYR-FM, also an Oldies station which at one time was well respected and successful. But, stations rise and fall and eventually it lost the good fight to WJMK-FM which was always a finely-honed operation.

If all of this had occurred 15 years ago and both Internet streaming and HD Radio had not been available, WJMK-FM, would surely be dead. But today's technology affords listeners - and radio stations - more options than ever before.

Chicago is a wonderful, tough, and loyal town. The people have never given up on their Cubbies – and I’m not sure the WJMK crowd will easily give up on their team, either.

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