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FTT Year 2017 in Review: The Hot or Not Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part II)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2018, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at some of the Hot or Not moments that define the Philippine media this year.

If you missed out on Part I of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

Here is Part II of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

HOT: Ben and Erwin Tulfo

The two Tulfo brothers began the year as hosts of their respective programs (Ben for ‘Bitag Live’, Erwin for ‘Punto Asintado’) on Radyo5 92.3 News FM. But after a highly-publicized feud with journalist Ed Lingao last June, Ben and Erwin elected to quit their jobs with Radyo5 and move over to PTV-4 (where they host ‘Kilos Pronto’ with Alex Santos) and Radyo Pilipinas full-time.

While Ben moved ‘Bitag Live’ to join its sister programs over to PTV-4, Erwin returned to newscasting with ‘Radyo Pilipinas Nationwide’ and ‘PTV News’ where he is joined by Weng dela Peña and Diane Querrer respectively. Erwin also brought his ‘Erwin Tulfo Live’ over to Radyo Pilipinas and started a talk show with President Rodrigo Duterte called ‘Sa Totoo Lang’.

NOT: Raffy Tulfo

Meanwhile, the lone remaining Tulfo on TV5 continued to butcher the already damaged reputation of its news division by changing the format anew of ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’. As a result, the erstwhile newscast became a full-on television counterpart to Raffy’s radio program ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ by emphasizing more on citizen complaints than actual news reports.

Notwithstanding the recent addition of Marga Vargas as co-anchor, it was clear that having Raffy on ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ is doing more harm than good to News5’s morale. Perhaps the departure of his brothers plus News5’s decline in quality may have taken its toll on Raffy, and giving him the walking papers may be inevitable.

HOT: DZMM TeleRadyo and Dobol B sa News TV

In April, a new-look DZMM TeleRadyo was unveiled to a nationwide audience, featuring an improved visual presentation and a new set for ‘Sakto’, ‘Good Vibes’, ‘On the Spot’ and ‘Todo-Todo Walang Preno’. They also added a selection of ABS-CBN News programs and two newscasts to the lineup in ‘Headline Pilipinas’ and an ‘early edition’ of ‘Bandila’.

Not to be outdone, rival Super Radyo DZBB 594 returned to television via ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ after a four-year hiatus. The station also started to cross over to social media by airing select programs live on Facebook, much like DZMM does on occasion.

NOT: News5 in General

The self-destruction of News5 continued throughout the year. Not only did the network lose Ben and Erwin Tulfo among other talents, they also cancelled ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’ and shortened ‘Aksyon Tonite’ in favor of sports programming from ESPN5.

It also didn’t help that its leader Luchi Cruz-Valdes disappeared from radio and television altogether due to health concerns. Overall, the future does not look bright for News5 and the inevitability of dissolution draws even closer as each day passes.

HOT: 97.9 Home Radio

Call it a rebirth as the ‘old’ 97.9 Home Radio returned to the airwaves last July. Gone is the Top 40 style of previous years, and to the delight of its loyal listeners, Home Radio resurrected its familiar ‘easy listening’ format.

The reformat of Home Radio back to its roots should give 96.3 Easy Rock a run for its money. After all, with Easy Rock offering a bland Love Radio-like approach, a more diverse playlist is more than enough for listeners to switch to Home Radio instead.

NOT: 90.7 Love Radio

They may continue to boast that they were the No. 1 radio station in Metro Manila for nearly (self-proclaimed) two decades now, but the grip is slipping for 90.7 Love Radio. The loss of Papa Jack (now 106.7 Energy FM’s Papa Jackson) became too large of a hole to fill, and despite having the talented duo of Chris Tsuper and Nicole Hyala, this year overall is not a good one for Love Radio.

Getting surpassed by MOR 101.9 in the ratings is insult to injury to Love Radio’s psyche. And if that is not enough, Lloyd Cafe Cadena is no Papa Jackson, which is hard to accept for any listener of the said station.

HOT: FM1 and FM2

The two FM stations under the PCOO umbrella officially signed on this year: 104.3 FM2 in February and 87.5 FM1 in November. Within months, FM2 became the top-rated FM radio station among the upscale listening public thanks in large part to their diverse format featuring classic songs from the 70s up to the 90s.

As for FM1, the station is currently in test broadcast and is expected to launch early next year. Unlike FM2, FM1 will focus on the younger demographic with a format consisting of music from the 2000s onwards, which should give established stations like Magic 89.9 and Monster RX 93.1 a run for their money.

NOT: Retro 105.9

The original ‘retro’ FM radio station in Metro Manila faced new competition in the form of FM2 this year. Initially, Retro 105.9 was the top FM radio station among Metro Manila’s upscale listeners, but a surge from FM2 ended their reign.

Making matters worse is Retro 105.9’s latest rebrand that took place in November, dismissing almost all of its on-air staff in favor of a mostly automated approach. With FM2 imposing its will on the upscale market, it seems like the days of Retro 105.9 as the source of anything ‘retro’ music is being numbered by the day.

Part III of this four-part series is coming up this Thursday. Stay tuned.

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Tulfo Brothers’ Departure Leaves Radyo5 in a Tight Spot

The crisis within News5 reached a new level last week.

A few weeks ago, brothers Erwin and Ben Tulfo, and Ed Lingao were engaged in a war of words in both social media and in their respective programs. To make the long story short, here is how the story began.

Erwin’s brother Ben then defended him against Ed Lingao on his ‘Bitag Live’ program last June 20, 2017. The said video was quickly uploaded on the ‘Bitag’ YouTube page, and Ed later responded to Ben’s comments on Facebook.

However, in light of a personal tragedy involving Ed Lingao, Ben and his staff elected to remove the video. After that, Ben issued a public apology on social media.

Nevertheless, News5 management, led by Luchi Cruz-Valdes, were disappointed with the situation. On Friday, June 30, they posted this official statement condemning the controversy between the Tulfo brothers and Ed Lingao.

But by the time TV5 issued this statement, the damage has been done. On Thursday, June 29, Erwin announced his departure from Radyo5, and several hours later, brother Ben also called it quits.

While Ben quickly moved ‘Bitag Live’ to PTV-4, as of today, Erwin has yet to announce a new station of his own. Nevertheless, Erwin continues to appear alongside his brother and Alex Santos on ‘Kilos Pronto’, in addition to a Facebook-only broadcast called ‘Erwin Tulfo Live’.

As for Radyo5 92.3 News FM, they made some changes to their programming lineup in light of the departure of Ben and Erwin. The departed ‘Bitag Live’ was replaced by ‘Aksyon Solusyon’ which was then extended to two hours, while ‘Punto Asintado’ is now being handled by substitute anchors.

Unfortunately for Miguel Belmonte, the programming changes did little to mitigate this crisis. Radyo5 is already thin on talent, and with the Tulfo brothers (save for Raffy who remains under contract) now gone, the situation only got worse.

In fact, host Alex Tinsay cannot do it alone. While he is the regular host of ‘Aksyon Solusyon’, he has also pinched-hit for the Tulfo brothers in their programs, but with Ben and Erwin no longer in the fold, the challenge even got trickier.

So much so that Menchie Silvestre (host of ‘Alagang Kapatid’) and Niña Taduran (Raffy’s co-host on ‘Wanted sa Radyo’) are penciled in to take over ‘Aksyon Solusyon’ on the interim. But if Radyo5 were smart, there are others hosts who can fill in the void.

Take Cheryl Cosim for example. The host of ‘Serbisyong Kapatid’ and ‘Healthline with Cheryl Cosim’ has also hosted ‘Punto Asintado’ in the past, and with her current two programs in the same mold as ‘Aksyon Solusyon’, Radyo5 should consider giving her a slot on either program.

Maricel Halili, the host of ‘Iba Yung Pinoy’, is another option, having pinched-hit on ‘Punto Asintado’ on a few occasions. So is Lourd de Veyra, another occasional pinch-hitter on the show.

Ed Lingao, who has rarely, if not never, worked on radio, could also be a viable option, provided that he is allowed to return. Or they could welcome back the now-former DOTR spokesperson Cherie Mercado and revive ‘Trabaho Lang’ as a morning program, if she is allowed more time with her family.

Overall, Miguel Belmonte has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, but it will be up to him to deliver the goods. This is now a litmus test for Radyo5 92.3 News FM, so let’s see how will they play this out.

Otherwise they can just reformat into an easy listening station ala 96.3 Easy Rock. Simple as that.

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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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97.9 Home Radio Shuts Down

97.9 Home Radio ceases to exist after 14 years.

The end of February saw another radio station in Metro Manila sign off for good. 97.9 Home Radio (DWQZ), owned by the Aliw Broadcasting Corporation, ended its broadcasts after a 14-year run. Its replacement has yet to be announced.

Home Radio’s format was basically similar to rival 96.3 Easy Rock (DWRK), playing mostly adult contemporary songs. But unlike Easy Rock, Home Radio’s playlist lean more towards the most recent singles in order to draw younger listeners. On Sundays, Home Radio eschews its AC format in favor of contemporary hit radio for ‘Variety Hits Sunday’. As the name suggests, the playlist featured dance, rock and pop tunes not normally heard on the station.

Home Radio also operated without the use of disc jockeys, but later in its run they would employ DJs to their staff. Despite that, the DJs at Home Radio speak less than other stations, as Home Radio emphasized its ‘less talk, more music’ style.

Sadly, the growing influence of the masa-based Manila Broadcasting Company to Easy Rock proved to be Home Radio’s undoing. With Easy Rock now playing a more ‘masa’ style, Home Radio simply failed to keep up, and on February 28, it was decided that Home Radio will be shut down, and a new station will take its place.

Home Radio tried its best to attract a new generation of listeners who crave a different brand of ‘light and easy’ music. But while it was never able to create a worthy following, its attempt to stay afloat amid the growth of so-called ‘masa’ stations will always be remembered. And Home Radio’s legacy as a station that ‘likes it easy’ will never be forgotten.

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Why W-Rock is Still Better than Easy Rock

In 2008, the Manila Broadcasting Company acquired the 96.3 frequency and renamed it Easy Rock. Though it shares a similar format as its previous incarnation W-Rock, it increasingly started to add songs from the Hot AC category that sister stations Yes! FM and Love Radio use. (Logo courtesy of Manila Broadcasting Company)

Before the Manila Broadcasting Company acquired the 96.3 frequency in Metro Manila, 96.3 W-Rock was the station of choice for a majority of the white collar, upper class audience. The format is basic and straight-forward, consisting of a combination of classic and modern hits from the Adult Contemporary and soft rock formats. On Fridays, older listeners tune in to Friday Classics, featuring hits from the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. At 8 am and 8 pm, ballads and mid-tempo singles gave way to dance tracks, courtesy of the program Past Dance. And at 3:30 pm, listeners enjoy three straight songs from the same artist or band, known as Three of a Kind. In 2008 however, a change of ownership and style was about to unfold.

That year, ACWS-United Broadcasting Network sold the 96.3 frequency to the Manila Broadcasting Company. Subsequently the W-Rock name was dropped and MBC adopted the station name Easy Rock on the said frequency. W-Rock was briefly revived as an online station before it closed shop two years later. At first, Easy Rock featured almost the same playlist as its predecessor, along with a ‘less talk, more music’ feel, but for the past few years, they deemphasized up-and-coming and current AC hits in favor of older songs, some of which go as far as the 1970s. In addition, on-air jocks were also being used in an effort to widen their audience. This ‘change’ made me wonder if Easy Rock had turned into a ‘pang-masa’ station.

Listening to Easy Rock lately has been unbearable. They added songs that are more for the masses than for the upper class. To think that Easy Rock is a lite rock station is both an insult and a disgrace. MBC, who built 101.1 Yes! FM and 90.7 Love Radio to the top of the Philippine radio hierarchy, seem to influence the evolving playlist of Easy Rock. They managed to relegate some of current and modern AC songs in favor of power ballads such as those from Nazareth, Scorpions and Air Supply. Such a change made me realize that Easy Rock is becoming a more manipulated clone of MBC’s two other stations, albeit in a softer format.

In contrast, W-Rock features only a playlist aimed for A, B and C social classes. The latter is also well-polished, sweet and pleasant to listen to. In fact, back in my youth, I grew up listening to W-Rock because of its ‘less talk, more music’ feel, which means that music is the star of the station rather than the on-air personality. W-Rock’s playlist is also incomparable. You can listen to a pop ballad by a 90s boyband such as the Backstreet Boys first, then follow it up with a classic hit single from either the 80s or the late 70s, and so on. And they feature none of the excesses aimed at the masses. So when it comes to the best combination of the classic and modern Adult Contemporary playlist, W-Rock is the best.

To this day, I continue to despise Easy Rock for its adoption of a softer, older and less controversial playlist from its sister stations at MBC. And even with W-Rock already faded into history, it remains an influential station for listeners who still enjoy its playlist and approach.

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