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Home of the Millennials No More: 97.9 Home Radio Returns to Old Easy Listening Format

The final logo of 97.9 Home Radio during the ‘Home of the Millennials’ era. (Logo courtesy of Aliw Broadcasting Corporation)

It is back to basics for 97.9 Home Radio and its affiliates.

After over three years playing both hot adult contemporary and top 40 songs, Aliw Broadcasting Corporation decided to convert Home Radio back to the more popular easy listening format. The unveiling was quiet and unexpected; there was no announcement nor press release to accompany this change.

It can be recalled that in March 2014, Aliw turned Home Radio into a ‘masa’ station akin to more popular standouts such as 90.7 Love Radio. Initially keeping the Home Radio name, Aliw rebranded the station to Natural 97.9, a move that did not sit well with listeners.

In July, the ‘Home Radio’ name was brought back, while any reference to the ‘Natural’ brand was gradually dropped. Along the way, Aliw realized that the ‘masa’ format was not working out, and they decided to convert Home Radio into a contemporary hit radio station similar to those used by Magic 89.9.

Despite some aggressive social media promotion, the use of student DJs, and catchphrases such as ‘Home of the Millennials’ and ‘The Music of Now’, 97.9 Home Radio failed to catch on with the millennial market. Thus another revamp is needed, one that will bring them back to their roots.

Thus on Friday, June 30, the original format of 97.9 Home Radio was brought back, much to the delight of loyal listeners who were disenchanted by the network’s foray into the ‘masa’ and top 40 market. Despite that, the website and social media accounts of the station were not updated as of today, thus putting the station on ‘test broadcast’ mode until further notice.

Still, the prospect of a return to form gave listeners some glimmer of hope. With the emergence of classic hits stations in 104.3 FM2 and Retro 105.9 DCG-FM, Aliw found out that tapping back to the listener market of 30 and older is the best path for Home Radio moving forward.

Listeners can only hope that the return of Home Radio into its familiar adult contemporary format will be one of the most successful comeback stories on Philippine radio. It may be long overdue, but it should be all worth it.

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The Return of ‘The Hits and Lite Favorites’

The 2nd iteration of 103.5 K-Lite continues to pose headaches for listeners.

Last November 24, K-Lite reverted back to its original slogan and playlist as ‘The Hits and Lite Favorites’, This marked the station’s fourth slogan and playlist change in over a year, a sign that continues to hurt The Radio Partners’ (TRPI) reputation.

The never-ending change in format also affected its on-air staff. There have been 18 DJs who have manned K-Lite’s booth, and of the six in the current lineup, only two have been with the station since its relaunch.

Instability has been the name of the game for K-Lite these days, and unless they finally settle on a right format and slogan in the long term, it may be of the owners’ best interest to sell the network soon. That said, this is not good news for TRPI, especially now that sister station 99.5 Play FM is also struggling.

 

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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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105.9 Radio High Bows Out

Radio High 105.9 is expected to reformat after the Holy Week, in which it will be renamed as Retro 105.9.

While frustrated listeners are still recovering from the reformat of 97.9 Home Radio into a ‘masa’ station, another radio station has decided to undergo a similar process.

105.9 Radio High, whose format consisted of smooth jazz and adult contemporary music, decided to end its broadcasts after three years on the air. The station, owned by Francis Lumen, was the fourth to occupy the 105.9 frequency, after the rock-oriented LA 105.9, hip-hop based Blazin’ 105.9, and the rock-oriented RJ Underground Radio 105.9.

Replacing Radio High will be a classic hits radio station known as Retro 105.9. The upcoming station will be helmed by some of the industry’s ageless veterans like Jimmy Jam, The Mole, and the Triggerman, and will essentially be patterned after another competing radio station in RJ 100.3. Retro 105.9 is expected to debut after the Holy Week.

Radio High, as the tagline suggests, was basically ‘not for everyone’, as it only targeted a more sophisticated part of the population. The format itself was influenced by Lumen’s previous experience in running Citylite 88.3 and Joey 92.3.

Unfortunately for Lumen, his reentry into the industry came at the onset of a ‘masa’ revolution, in which several stations eschewed niche radio formats in favor of the revenue-generating hot adult contemporary (‘masa’) format. And with financial losses looming, Lumen had no choice but to end his lease on the 105.9 frequency.

Radio High’s brief three-year run was, in essence, another forgettable chapter in the history of radio. In an era where ‘masa’ is becoming the norm, a few niche-based radio stations have managed to weather the storm by maintaining a loyal audience and finding other ways to survive. Unfortunately for Radio High, they were unable to do just that. And as a result, its departure only adds pressure to its successor in Retro 105.9.

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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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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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