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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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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 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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The Sad Saga of Wave 891 and Natural 97.9

Wave 891 went back to basics in September, beginning with a return to their old logo from 2008 and a revised programming format. (Logo courtesy of Tiger22 Media Corporation)

103.5 K-Lite is not the only radio station that is suffering from an identity crisis.

K-Lite’s sister station Wave 891 and Natural 97.9 are also enduring the same fate. Like K-Lite, both stations have shifted from one format to another while maintaining their on-air identity.

Just last month, Wave 891 decided to reformat anew. While they retained their brand of hip-hop, RnB and urban music, they cleaned house by reverting back to their 2008-13 logo, replacing the likes of King DJ Logan with younger, less experienced voices, and restructuring their program lineup.

The revamp on the Wave camp came as a result of rising costs in both talent and programming. As a result, ‘Tsunamix’, ‘Soul Review Countdown’ and ‘The Rowdy Empire’ were axed in favor of new programs, the schedules of which can be viewed on the official Wave 891 Facebook page.

Meanwhile, Natural 97.9 was off to an inauspicious start. After 14 years as the adult contemporary station Home Radio, they reformatted to a hybrid ‘masa’ and Top 40 sound last March, keeping the Home Radio name in the process.

But amid backlash from once-loyal Home Radio listeners, the management finally gave in to pressure, and dropped the Home Radio name in favor of its slogan Natural. The makeover didn’t stop there however, as they reformatted into a traditional Top 40 sound akin to Magic 89.9, Monster Radio RX 93.1 and 99.5 Play FM, just in time for the arrival of musicians Duncan Ramos and Jimmy Bondoc to the station.

Both Wave 891 and Natural 97.9 now realize how difficult it is to compete in an industry that is gradually declining in quality. With ‘masa’ stations obliterating the landscape one-by-one, it is clear that the more specific genre-based radio stations are at a disadvantage, especially with the popularity of digital downloading and MP3 players.

That said, it will be a more daunting task now for both stations to stay alive in the light of continuous changes within the music industry.

Whether or not their new formats will last in the long term remain to be seen. But for now, listeners should look forward to a different brew on Wave 891 and Natural 97.9.

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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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