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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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In 100 Words: Yes the Best? More Like Yes the Worst!

Looks like nothing has changed on 101.1 Yes the Best.

Despite a massive and heavily hyped rebrand that took several months to materialize (even going as far as labeling the station as the ‘Home of the Millennials’), the sound of Yes the Best remains virtually the same as its previous incarnation. They are still a ‘masa’ station with ridiculously named DJs, playing some OPM, dance and hip-hop tracks, and even classic rock ballads from years past.

If Yes wants to truly live up to their billing as the ‘Home of the Millennials’, the station should have morphed into a Top 40 CHR station ala Magic 89.9 and 99.5 Play FM. This is poor advertising on MBC’s part, one that will definitely fool the more educated listener.

Sorry, but the rebrand of 101.1 Yes the Best is a thumbs down. Get your priorities straight, MBC.

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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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Yes FM Rebrands, Targets Millennials

The similarities between MBC sister stations 90.7 Love Radio and 101.1 Yes FM have been well-documented.

Ever since the Manila Broadcasting Company converted Yes FM into a Hot AC (‘masa’) station in 1998, the competition between Yes and MBC’s older flagship station Love Radio became intense and at times cordial. Both stations were in the top two in the ratings, and they even boasted that so-called fact in various stingers.

Unfortunately, the similarity in format proved to be a hindrance for Yes FM. By playing virtually the same type of music and catering to the same audience as Love Radio, Yes was always in the shadow of its older counterpart, and thus, they were treated like a ‘puppet’ to MBC.

It was clear to MBC that Yes needed a facelift. So in July of this year, they decided to give Yes a new sound, rebranding the station as 101.1 Yes the Best.

While semblances of its old ‘masa’ self continue to exist, the new Yes the Best is now dominated by music that is typically heard in CHR stations, with some mix of OPM and other Asian pop music. The new format of Yes is also targeted toward millennials (i.e. those born in the 1980s to the early 2000s).

Yes the Best also had a talent exchange with older station Love Radio prior to the reformat. Erstwhile Love Radio DJs Shai Tisai and Raqi Terra were moved to Yes in exchange for Tanya Chinita and Kara Karinyosa, who were moved next door to Love Radio.

In all honesty, the new sound of Yes the Best makes sense. Though the new format may prove to be consequential to its ratings, distinguishing Yes from the older Love Radio may be the best decision that MBC made, which could also benefit the FM radio industry in general.

Let’s just hope that the new Yes the Best model can be sustainable for a long period of time. With a new generation of listeners now coming to their senses, Yes the Best should live up to their billing as ‘The Millennials’ Choice’.

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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 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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