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The End of NU 107 and the Birth of Radyo5 92.3 News FM, Six Years Later

Two Philippine FM radio milestones took place six years ago this week.

The night of November 7, 2010 will forever be remembered by Pinoy rock fans throughout the country, as NU 107 officially signed off for the last time. Many will reminisce its final moments on the air, during which the Eraserheads’ ‘Ang Huling El Bimbo’ was played while listeners raised their lighters outside the NU 107 studios in Pasig.

The following morning, a different radio station took the place of NU 107. 107.5 Win Radio, a brainchild of Manny Luzon, officially made its debut, and its ‘masa’-oriented format was reminiscent of Luzon’s other creation, 90.7 Love Radio.

While Win Radio proved to be popular in its own right, the vacuum left by the demise of NU 107 seemed irreparable. Attempts to revive NU’s tried and tested format online proved futile, and although Jam 88.3 moved to an NU 107-like rock format a few months later, the loss of a beloved and iconic station was hard to overcome.

Today, 107.5 is currently occupied by the adult contemporary-oriented Wish 1075, while Win Radio moved over to 91.5 to merge with former sister station Big Radio. As for the legacy of NU 107, it remains to be seen if Jam 88.3 can equal or surpass the heights that NU reached.

Also on November 8, 2010, another up-and-coming radio station made its debut. TV5-owned Radyo5 92.3 News FM, the first all-news FM radio station in the country, aired its initial broadcast, replacing the youth-oriented CHR station U92.

From day one, Radyo5 92.3 News FM constantly ranked among Metro Manila’s top FM radio stations. It even provided a serious challenge to AM radio giants Super Radyo DZBB 594, DZMM Radyo Patrol 630, and DZRH 666 as far as listenership is concerned.

Unfortunately, the station endured some rough sailing in the years since. The addition of live PBA coverage, the loss of several top-notch talent, the inability to replace and fill vacated timeslots, and the unwillingness to cover important live events severely tested Radyo5’s viability.

With TV5 encountering its fair share of problems, the future of Radyo5 92.3 News FM is now in doubt. It will be up to embattled bosses Gladys Lana-Lucas and Luchi Cruz-Valdes to save the station from further collapse.

Six years after these two significant events on Philippine radio, both NU 107 and Radyo5 92.3 News FM are still remembered by radio listeners all over the country, for contrasting reasons. For one station, it was about making a mark in the industry, while the other was about making a statement in the music-dominated field of FM radio.

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FTT Year 2014 in Review: FM Radio

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2015, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article will focus on the FM radio stations of Metro Manila, with a recap of the news that occurred within the industry.

105.9 Goes Retro

March saw the launch of Retro 105.9 DCG-FM. The station played nothing but classic hits from as far as the 60s to as close as the early 2000s, and featured radio industry veterans as the station’s voices.

Retro 105.9 became an immediate hit with listeners, so much so that other stations took notice of its emergence. As a result of Retro 105.9’s success, these stations either shortened their throwback programs (e.g. Magic 89.9’s ‘Friday Madness’ and Saturday Slam’), or restricted their playlists to cater towards younger listeners, (e.g. RX 93.1’s ‘Riot Wednesday’).

From Big to Win to Wish

June 26 saw the final broadcast of 107.5 Win Radio, as Daniel Razon purchased the station from Manny Luzon. As a result, Luzon was forced to move Win Radio to 91.5, replacing erstwhile sister station Big Radio.

Then on August 10, Razon’s new station was christened as Wish 1075, an adult contemporary station. Wish immediately filled the void vacated by another recently reformatted station.

Home Radio Becomes ‘Natural’ and Back

The original 97.9 Home Radio signed off for the last time on February 28. Then on March 17, Home Radio Natural!, now with a more ‘masa’ playlist and DJs named after fruits, was launched.

What happened next was a saga of rebrands and format changes within 97.9 that baffled the entire FM radio community. First, ‘Home Radio’ was dropped from its name in July, only to bring it back in November, and then in August, the format changed from Hot AC (‘masa’) to Top 40 Contemporary Hit Radio.

K-Lite’s Endless Rebrands, Plus Wave and Play FM’s Continued Problems

Speaking of a saga of rebrands and format changes, 103.5 K-Lite also endured the same routine as Home Radio Natural!, albeit at a more extreme pace. The station went from CHR to classic hits and back to AC, all within a span of eight months, while constantly shuffling its on-air staff.

The issues surrounding K-Lite were not the only problems that Tiger22 faced this year though. 99.5 Play FM again endured some more changes in its on-air staff, while Wave 891 returned to an R&B/rhythmic format after experimenting with a more hip-hop playlist the previous year.

In Other News…

95.5 Pinas FM officially became an all-OPM station in October, becoming the first and only FM radio station in the country to do so.

As mentioned earlier, Magic 89.9 cut short its broadcasts of ‘Friday Madness’ and ‘Saturday Slam’ in June. This paved the way for the three-hour remix programs that followed both blocks: ‘Slamma Jamma’ (Fridays) and ‘Saturday Night Take Over’ (Saturdays).

RX 93.1 also made a change to its throwback block ‘Riot Wednesday’. Gone is the remix program ‘Riot Remix’, while ‘Back to the 80s’ was replaced by ‘Throwback: The Year That Was’.

And finally, Barangay LS 97.1 was reformatted anew, both in programming and in overall presentation. At the same time, GMA decided to rename its regional radio stations to the Barangay brand, in a reverse response to ABS-CBN’s rebranding of 101.9 to the regional stations’ MOR name.

Outlook

An eventful 2014 should be followed by an even more intense 2015, as the Metro’s FM radio stations try to improve from their previous year’s performances. That said, expect more of these shakeups, rebrands and changes once the new year rolls on.

 

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The Launch of 107.5 Wish FM

107.5 Wish FM was officially launched on August 10, 2014, in a live concert at the World Trade Center in Pasay. (Logo courtesy of the Progressive Broadcasting Corporation)

It’s a wish come true for DWNU 107.5.

On August 10, Daniel Razon’s Breakthrough & Milestone Productions International, Inc. officially launched 107.5 Wish FM, in a live concert at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. The concert featured bands such as Rivermaya, 6Cyclemind, Sandwich, Imago and Spongecola, as well as artists like Richard Poon, Mitoy Yonting, Jonalyn Viray, Gerald Santos and Jeffrey Hidalgo.

In addition, the management of the station granted ‘wishes’ to various individuals. One such wish involved progeria-stricken Rochelle Pondare, whose wish was to be a recording artist despite suffering from premature aging at 17.

Wish FM also introduced the first-ever mobile FM bus. The said vehicle will travel to different places within Metro Manila, with the intent of promoting the station to its listeners.

The launch of Wish FM was not complete without its staff of DJs. The new station introduced industry veterans Hill Billy Willy and Uncle Harry, as well as DJs Princess, Alice, Jelly Kisses, Flynn Rider, and Russell.

Wish FM is now the third iteration of the 107.5 frequency currently occupied by the Progressive Broadcasting Corporation. The station was previously known as NU 107 (hard rock/alternative format) from 1987-2010, and 107.5 Win Radio (hot adult contemporary format) from 2010-14.

The transition from Win Radio to Wish FM began on June 26, when BMPI took over management of 107.5. This led to the resignation of Manny Luzon as executive vice president of PBC and subsequent relocation of Win Radio to erstwhile sister station 91.5 Big Radio two days later.

Soon after, the unnamed station adopted a broader adult contemporary format, and was initially broadcast as P.S. FM before BMPI decided to launch under the more catchy Wish FM brand.

The rebranded station also relocated from their old booth at AIC Gold Tower in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, to the temporary UNTV Center in Philam Homes, Quezon City. Win Radio, however, will continue to occupy the AIC booth next door.

With that, let’s wish the new station good luck on its first week of broadcast.

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After NU and Win, It’s P.S. on 107.5

107.5 P.S. FM, an easy listening station, will officially launch on August 10. (Logo courtesy of the Progressive Broadcasting Corporation)

For the third time since 2010, DWNU 107.5 has a new name and a new format.

After the hard rock and alternative approach of NU 107, and the masa-based Hot AC style of 107.5 Win Radio, the station has decided to go the softer route.

Starting this August, 107.5 will now be called P.S. FM. A grand launch for the said network will take place on August 10 at the World Trade Center.

107.5 P.S. FM will play mostly easy listening and adult contemporary songs, similar to 96.3 Easy Rock and defunct stations such as Mellow Touch 94.7 and 97.9 Home Radio.

The rebrand of 107.5 actually began on June 26, when Daniel Razon took over the management of the station from Manny Luzon. Win Radio held its final broadcast on that day, while Razon’s Breakthrough and Milestone Productions International, Inc. held a soft launch for the upcoming station at the World Trade Center.

Luzon and Win Radio then moved to the 91.5 frequency, formerly known as Big Radio, on June 27. 91.5 Big Radio was once Win Radio’s sister station before Luzon left 107.5.

Despite the rebrand, the studios of both Win Radio and P.S. FM will remain inside the AIC Gold Tower at Ortigas Center in Pasig City, though plans are in the offing for P.S. FM to move into the current UNTV headquarters in Philam Homes, Quezon City.

Razon’s takeover of 107.5 coincided with the 10th anniversary of UNTV (actually the station’s 13th but Razon and company disregarded any technicality). In addition to the rebrand of 107.5, UNTV broke ground on a new broadcast center on the former Plantersbank branch on Philam Homes, North EDSA, Quezon City, with the future site expected to house UNTV’s studios, equipment and production rooms, as well as the radio booths of both P.S. FM and UNTV Radio La Verdad 1350 AM.

The new station is expected to compete with 96.3 Easy Rock in the easy listening pop format.

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Radio Programs Deserving of a Comeback

Today’s FM radio landscape is being littered by ‘masa’ stations that play basically old love songs and novelty singles. The proliferation of ‘masa’ stations practically hurt the FM radio industry, which led to audiences tuning out and turn to other means of listening, such as internet radio and digital downloading. But back when the radio industry in the Philippines was full of diversity, several radio programs stand out, and here are the top radio programs that deserved to return on air.

Top 20 @ 12 – Campus Radio 97.1 DWLS FM 

No one does it better than the Triggerman to count down the top 20 songs at the stroke of noon. The program is the top chart show on radio for many years, and even its counterparts can attest to that. While the Top 5 at 5 on Magic 89.9, The Playlist on 99.5 Play FM, and the Countdown Top 7 on Monster Radio RX 93.1 carried on its tradition, no one can still beat the legacy of the Top 20 @ 12, and it deserves a comeback, wherever station it may be.

In the Raw – NU 107

This program introduced us to several upcoming bands that went on to achieve success both in the box office and in the record store. NU 107’s flagship program proved successful that more bands signed up to perform on the program. Unfortunately changes in the radio landscape led to the reformat to ‘masa’-flavored 107.5 Win Radio, but ‘In the Raw”s legacy is secured. So much so that it deserves a radio comeback, preferably on Jam 88.3.

24K Friday – 99.5 RT

It is the oldies show that is more diverse, versatile and enduring than other oldies shows. Not even Friday Madness and Saturday Slam of Magic 89.9, Wave Back Wednesday on Wave 89.1, Monster’s Riot on RX 93.1, and Decade and Turn of the Century on Mellow 947 can attest to the longevity and popularity of 24K on 99.5 RT. The long-running radio program is just as identifiable as ‘The Rhythm of the City’, as it was the staple of the network during its two incarnations, and even during its run as 99.5 Hit FM. Sadly, management wanted to go younger, thus the program had to end its run once 99.5 became Play FM. Nevertheless, the veterans of the network are trying to revive the program as a full-time online radio site, but its heart will always be on terrestrial radio.

Pinoy Rock N’ Rhythm – 105.9 RJ Underground Radio and DZRJ 810 AM

This was the program that made Dante ‘Howlin’ Dave‘ David famous. It introduced listeners to Pinoy Rock and bands such as the Juan dela Cruz Band, Asin, Sampaguita and Freddie Aguilar during the Martial Law years. The program was cancelled once DZRJ-AM became Radyo Bandido after the EDSA Revolution, but was later revived on 105.9 RJ Underground Radio. After Howlin’ Dave’s death in 2008, the program endured through various jocks, but was cancelled again after UR ended operations in 2011. The program was such a classic that it needs a second chance, preferably on RJ 100.3 FM.

Talk Back – 103.5 K-Lite

Before ‘Boys Night Out’ even existed, there was Talk Back on the original incarnation of 103.5 K-Lite. It was basically under the format of ‘talk radio’, featuring listener and DJ interaction. The program may be only running for an hour, but listeners are keen and willing enough to gather information regarding the topic being discussed. Talk Back lasted for much of the original K-Lite’s tenure, but when the current K-Lite debuted in July, Talk Back was not included among the returning programs. It was a radio classic that deserves a revival.

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Love Radio and Yes! FM Don’t Deserve to Be No. 1

Love Radio and sister station Yes! FM claims to be the top two radio stations. However, they do not deserve be in such regard due to their unfair competitive advantage.

For the past decade or so, Manila Broadcasting Company‘s 90.7 Love Radio reigned as the No. 1 radio station in Metro Manila. More recently in their station IDs, they promoted 90.7 Love Radio and 101.1 Yes! FM, both of whom were owned by MBC, as the top two radio stations in Metro Manila. This was according to various surveys conducted in the past two years.

But why they have been able to reign atop the surveys the past few, if not many, years? Many point out to its clear and polished sound, toilet humor, high power and reach, and an automated playlist consisting of old classic rock love songs, novelty hits, and OPM favorites. While rival 102.7 Star FM started the ‘masa’ station craze in the late 90s, it was 90.7 Love Radio and 101.1 Yes! FM who took it to the next level, prompting several stations (e.g. 97.1 Barangay LS FM, 107.5 Win Radio) to embrace the ‘masa’ concept as well.

Despite the survey that stake their claim, I believe neither 90.7 Love Radio nor 101.1 Yes! FM deserved to be in the top two. Both stations typify the cheapskate radio station: playlists that have fewer songs and are played repeatedly, and DJs and on-air characters that often pull out various forms of cheap humor. In addition, they were in the top two unfairly because of their high broadcast reach, something that other stations could not afford. In short, for all their claims as the No. 1 and No. 2 stations, they are still classified only for the ‘masa’ audience, and that their unfair advantage should not be taken for granted.

The real and sophisticated radio stations in Metro Manila today play more recent hits on a daily basis, and then reserving classic songs on specific days only. On some points of the day DJs talk about topics that interest people, and oftentimes interact with them through an open forum. Sometimes promos announcing an upcoming film, event or prize are included as well. Such radio stations include Magic 89.9, 99.5 Play FM, Monster Radio RX 93.1 and Mellow 94.7, among other stations.

Unfortunately, some radio stations reformat because of loss of audience share and the need for more advertising money. This was the case when NU 107 became Win Radio when it became apparent that a rock-oriented radio station cannot compete anymore due to loss of operating funds and competition from other sources. There is a reason why several radio stations became ‘masa’: new technologies such as the internet, MP3 downloads and the iPod, threatening the radio business as a whole.

In the end, it is hard to prevent the proliferation of ‘masa’ stations in an attempt to undermine the so-called ‘success’ of Love Radio and Yes! FM. Still, as long as there are a dedicated number of radio stations playing music that caters to a higher class of society, radio’s balance of power will be tipped on an even scale.

 

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