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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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In 100 Words: Home Radio is Back, Sort Of

97.9 Natural brought back the ‘Home Radio’ name in November. (Logo courtesy of Aliw Broadcasting Corporation)

There seems no end in sight for the embattled Natural 97.9.

Just recently, the Home Radio brand, which was supposedly retired in July, was brought back. This is already the fourth brand change for the Aliw-owned 97.9 FM frequency since the original Home Radio ended its broadcasts in March.

While the ‘re-re-re-rebranded’ Home Radio Natural kept the current Top 40/OPM format, the latest name change clearly showed the station’s lack of direction and identity. The owners seem to have not moved on from the proud and loud past that is ’97dot9 Home Radio’.

Much like 103.5 K-Lite, 97.9 Home Radio Natural is a headache waiting to happen. And it only gets even worse.

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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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