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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

The change that stuck is the new top-40 format on the old Brew.

In Movies & TV Commentary

The "Tiger Radio" stunt is now a Milwaukee radio footnote, replaced by a temporary all-Beatles lineup.

In Movies & TV Commentary

Marianne Lyles joins Channel 12's anchor lineup on June 19.

OnMedia: So who won the radio battle?


The only thing really clear in the radio shuffle of the past few days is that the rock station formerly known as "The Brew" -- officially still WQBW-FM (97.3) -- is now playing a top-40 format dubbed "Radio Now."

Still unclear is the next format for the station still known as WJZX-FM (106.9), which dumped "smooth jazz" last week (moving it to the station's HD sub-channel). The "Tiger Radio" stunt is over, and we've now moved into a second stunt, with the station offering a Beatles-only playlist for an indefinite period of time.

Tom Joerres, who oversees WJZX, along with radio powers WQHG-FM (102.9), known to listeners as "The Hog," and WKLH-FM (96.5 ) is one of the smartest guys in Milwaukee radio, and he's quietly plotting his next move.

It sure looks like his original stunt was trumped by Clear Channel, which owns WQBW. Clear Channel quickly leaped into the top-40 slot thought to be the next format for WJZX.

Another of Milwaukee radio's smartest guys is Clear Channel's Kerry Wolfe. He was heading to the ballpark at 11:45 p.m. Thursday when he got rumblings of WJZX's impending change.

He was listening to the launch of "Tiger Radio" at noon on his car radio.

"At that time, we started discussing. By late that night, we made the decision to go," said Wolfe, who'd been planning for a possible move later this year to the top-40 format, targeting women 25-54.

Wolfe sees the new 97.3 FM aiming for audience between younger-skewing WXSS-FM (103.7) and older-skewing WMYX-FM (99.1). Right now, it's playing all music, with personalities being added to the lineup. Wolfe says its "very likely" the Connie and Fish morning show -- which continues to air on Madison's WZEE-FM -- will be back.

The death of the Brew's format doesn't exactly hurt Saga, since The Brew's old rock format targeted part of the audience that Saga's two big stations also reach. It wasn't as successful, but the death of the Brew can only help the Hog and 'KLH.

WJZX's "smooth jazz" format always had a limited run. Saga picked it up when the station currently known as WLBD-FM (93.3) dropped it a couple years ago. It's hardly a growth industry, and WJZX was the weakest performer in Saga's Milwaukee radio portfolio. I'd be very surprised if any other station picked up "smooth jazz."

If, indeed, top-40 was the original goal for WJZX, it's not because of any love for the format. It's a business decision looking for a hole in the market. Whatever WJZX eventually flips to, it'll be done strategically to target a bit of the market that Joerres considers something he can sell to advertisers.

The bottom line here is that this latest shuffle is only the first evidence that Milwaukee radio is about to face a major earthquake, with the change of radio ratings from diaries to "Portable People Meters."

While we may not see two format changes at once, we're likely to see successful radio hosts suddenly dip in the ratings starting this fall, and under-performers shoot up in listening.

It's going to be interesting to watch.

I'm not sure it'll be that much fun to listen to.

On TV: Channel 12 reporter Marianne Lyles moves up to the anchor desk as the replacement for weekend morning anchor Jason Newton, who moves to the weekend evening anchor slot on Saturday, following last week's retirement of Mike Miller. Lyles has been with the ABC station since October 2008.

  • Despite talk that ABC might pick up CBS' canceled "Ghost Whisperer," EW.com's Michael Ausiello says it's not happening.
  • Tony Robbins gets his own NBC show starting July 27 on NBC. "Breakthrough with Tony Robbins" features the motivational speaker supposedly turning lives around.
  • TVGuide.com is reporting that "Glee" will add a Christian character to the gang of high school singers next fall.

Radio changes are nothing new: This Milwaukee TV commercial from 1984 pushes WZUU-FM, which by the late '80s was oldies WZTR and is now WRIT-FM (95.7). That latest designation resurrects classic Milwaukee AM radio call letters.


Talkbacks

viewfromnyave | June 2, 2010 at 3:26 p.m. (report)

The Beatles format is pretty cool for a day or two. It's the first time I've listened to anything on the FM dial to the right of 91.7 in a long time. Does anybody have any idea what they were filming in the Grand Avenue today?

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cuprisin | June 2, 2010 at 1:19 p.m. (report)

The various radio stations have a good profile of the various parts of the audience they want to sell to advertisers. My guess is that if there were a significant sized (and) marketable audience that could be reached with that format then such a station would exist.

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bal90400 | June 2, 2010 at 1:15 p.m. (report)

I've been curious about something for awhile, maybe someone knows the answer to my question. Why is there no FM station in Milwaukee devoted to rap/hip-hop, similar to Hot107 in Memphis? (and please don't anyone say V100 - too much R&B.)

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devidia | June 2, 2010 at 12:09 p.m. (report)

Wow. It just sounds like commercial radio is headed for a huge crash and burn, and maybe rightfully so. It hasn't been "fun" to listen to for some time and it sounds like it's just going to get worse. Every station sounds the same and is nothing more than an "outlet" for commercials. Maybe now's a good time to burn my old CD's to an MP3 player and tell commercial radio adios. And I have a hard time considering HD radio or satellite because radio has been free all of my life now and I can't justify paying for it now.

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bdg_in_mke | June 2, 2010 at 11:09 a.m. (report)

While I'm sure some people are upset about losing The Brew, the new Radio Now is a nice change of pace. Kiss FM plays way too much rap, r&b and hip hop and WMYX plays way too much contemporary and random '90s music. It's nice to finally have a radio station that plays actual Top 40 music.

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