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PRR 2015: Philippine Radio in Review

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2016, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio.

Our friend MC’s Corner will look back at the events that shaped Philippine radio in 2015. Enjoy.

MC's Corner

2015 is about to end in a few days. But before we bid goodbye to this year, here is a look back at what happened in the world of Philippine Radio. This article will analyze on the Top 10 newcomers, comebacks, reformats & restructures in Metro Manila (and a few in other key cities).

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This list ranges from newcomers to restructures to ventures.

1. 8TriMedia’s Big Move

8tm 8TriMedia Broadcasting

Late last year, 8TriMedia, a media company of Jojo Soliman, began as a blocktimer on DZJV 1458, airing its programs during nighttime (6pm onwards).

Last April, 8TM bought time from DWBL 1242 to air its programs. From 4 programs, they expanded to 7 on this 20-Kw station. The roster is consisted of veteran newscaster Miguel Gil, singers Lloyd Umali & Ima Castro, showbiz columnists Shalala & Rodel Fernando, and former Manila mayor Fred Lim, among others.

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Retro 105.9 DCG-FM Reloaded

Retro 105.9 DCG-FM has a new look, in the on-air department that is.

On the morning of October 20, a new but familiar voice took over Retro 105.9’s morning slot. King DJ Logan, last heard on Wave 891, was brought in to host ‘The Morning Show of Mass Destruction’, alongside a retainee from the now-defunct ‘The Breakfast Club’, Karen.

This is a risky hire for Retro 105.9 because of King DJ Logan’s past reputation as a loudmouth and a magnet of controversy. But then again, he remains an iconic and legendary name on radio that his addition to the Retro 105.9 staff was just too good to pass up.

Plus, he is a definite improvement over JJ Sparx, who never clicked with listeners during his stint in the mornings.

Another new hire on Retro 105.9 was Sgt. Pepper, formerly of Magic 89.9 and 103 1/2 Max FM. Pepper took over the evening slot on October 20, replacing Joey Pizza.

The brains behind the now-famous ‘Friday Madness’ on Magic 89.9, Pepper is no stranger to Retro 105.9 listeners, having previously guested on Triggerman’s ‘Saturday Retro Onstage’.

Like King DJ Logan, a name as memorable as Sgt. Pepper is just too irresistable for the bosses at Retro 105.9.

A new station manager also surfaced on the station. Cris Cruise (real name Cris Hermosisima) replaced JJ Sparx (real name Jonathan Jabson) in the task of creating Retro 105.9’s signature playlist, among other roles.

The new hires were teased during the weekend in various online forums. Meanwhile Retro 105.9 went on music automation as part of its latest realignment.

Effective October 20, this is now the current schedule of DJs on Retro 105.9 during weekdays:

6:00 a.m. – King DJ Logan & Karen (‘The Morning Show of Mass Destruction’)

10:00 a.m. – Joshua

2:00 p.m. – Jimmy Jam

6:00 p.m. – Sgt. Pepper

10:00 p.m. – Andy Tuna

2:00 a.m. – Music automation

As for Triggerman, Rudolph Rivera and Joey Pizza, they are slated to come on board during weekends. Their on-air times will be determined this Saturday.

It’s been over seven months since Retro 105.9 DCG-FM was launched, and so far, their flexible and deep playlist has been well-received by listeners. What they needed now are on-air talent to back up these positive vibes, and with the hirings of King DJ Logan, Sgt. Pepper and Cris Cruise, it looks like they made a wise and honest decision to improve their staff.

It remains to be seen if these new hires will help the station attract more listeners, but for now, it’s best to give them some time before they are finally get used to being ‘retro-fied’.

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103.5 KLite’s Identity Struggles

103.5 KLite underwent a third reformat in over a year, this time with the more recent hits (90s-2000s) dominating its playlist. (Logo courtesy of Tiger 22 Media Corporation)

103.5 KLite’s endless turnover continues.

In what has become a continuing theme, the embattled station decided to change its format again. Under the tagline of ‘Metro Manila’s Official Take Me Back Station’, the playlist now leans more on the 90s and 2000s tunes rather than the current ones.

The format change also featured a revamped cast of DJs. Among the new hires of the station was Fran (Monica Tobias in real life), a long-time DJ on Monster Radio RX 93.1.

As a result, KLite’s new format now resembles that of Retro 105.9 DCG-FM, albeit in a younger tone and in an adult contemporary spin.

It is clear that 103.5 KLite is becoming a shell of its former self. In a competitive industry such as Philippine radio, finding an identity and a niche are crucial ingredients in the viability of a particular station, and so far, KLite has not done that.

In fact, I went as far as dubbing 103.5 under the name ‘Wow, It’s Heart to the Max na KLite’, due to the station’s recent history of format changes. Since Tiger 22 took over management of DWKX 103.5 in the mid-90s, the station endured nine format changes and four different brand names, with the original KLite lasting the longest at 11 years.

On the other hand, sister stations Jam 88.3 and Wave 89.1 basically kept their respective alternative and urban formats with a few tweaks in between, while DWRT-FM 99.5 (as 99.5 RT, 99.5 Hit FM, Campus 99.5 and 99.5 Play FM) maintained their brand of contemporary hit radio despite several changes in identity.

If KLite were to reformat again (assuming that they decided to do the unthinkable after six or seven months), it would be best for them to combine the formats of their previous incarnations (Heart, Max, Wow, original KLite) and integrate into the current KLite.

Under the proposed format, KLite should add a select number of dance tunes (from Max), R&B singles (from Heart), rock songs (from original KLite) and ‘masa’ hits (from Wow) to their trademark adult contemporary playlist. It may be a combustible mix, but this is the best that KLite can do.

But right now, 103.5 KLite is a station that is suffering from an identity crisis. And unless they finally settle with a format that is distinctly theirs, things will only get worse.

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The Return of 103.5 KLite

103.5 KLite returns after a seven-year absence, using the lite alternative format of the early years.

The DWKX 103.5 frequency returned to its original brand after a seven-year absence. The KLite brand re-debuted on July 22, 2013, playing the lite adult contemporary brand from its early years. Though many clamor for the return of the lite alternative format of the later years, Quest Broadcasting decided to go back to KLite’s roots as the lite alternative and rock format is currently used by sister station Jam 88.3.

In the seven years between the two iterations of KLite, the 103.5 frequency was known by its three brands: Heart 1035, 103 1/2 Max FM, and 103.5 Wow! FM. The Heart 1035 brand lasted from January to June 2007, playing soft R&B and adult contemporary music, similar to what the ‘masa-fied’ station 96.3 Easy Rock is playing these days, albeit with less emphasis on the older music. From June 2007 to August 2010, the 103.5 frequency was branded as 103 1/2 Max FM, playing both classic and modern Top 40 Pop and Adult Contemporary, before shifting to house music and dance later on. Then from August 2007 to July 2013, the frequency was known as 103.5 Wow! FM, playing ‘masa’ music consisting of Hot Adult Contemporary, OPM and classic rock ballads typical of stations such as 101.1 Yes! FM and 90.7 Love Radio. The face of Wow! FM has been Mr. Fu; however the brand’s demise was assured after Mr. Fu’s resignation and return to 106.7 Energy FM.

Which leads to the return of the 103.5 K-Lite brand that is now playing on the radio. The returning brand started airing at 6:00 a.m. of July 22 with ‘The Morning Buzz’ hosted by DJ Electric. Soon after a mix of fresh blood and veteran voices began to take over the K-Lite booth, including a pair of veterans from the defunct NU 107 in Mondo and Trish, Alamid frontman Carl McFly, and Max Speed from the Max and Wow! eras. The station’s return to form was a needed boost for Philippine FM radio that is being invaded by ‘masa’ stations.

The second KLite brand is nearly a month into the airwaves, and so far, many of the old listeners and some of the new ones were impressed with its playlist. It was like having a second wind, a station desperately needed by listeners who were disenchanted by the ‘masa’ stations that is overwhelming the industry. With it comes the responsibility of keeping it on air for several more years, provided that listeners were satisfied with the brand of music that KLite is playing.

KLite is definitely back, and stronger than ever. It remains to be seen whether it will stay on air for a longer period of time, but with further positive feedback from listeners, the brand will remain as long as the listeners like it.

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