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#LessThan200Words: On 105.9 Like FM

Retro 105.9 quietly signed off without any publicity. So what are the reasons why this station fell from grace, and how will its replacement Like FM be able to fare in a tough radio environment?

Timow's Turf

(Requested by Rexdel Yabut Mallari. Apologies for the rush writing but the Turf is not done yet.)

THE RUMORS and observations this closing month from PinoyExchange over DWLA 105.9 FM in Metro Manila came true.

Retro 105.9 shut down last Friday without formal notice — despite the warning signs — and is replaced with 105.9 Like FM, for the sixth try (fifth under blocktimer since 2003), the following day. The genre of the newly branded radio station is leaning to adult Top 40 or a mix of current and classic hits.

For the shocked and non-oriented loyal listeners, many reasons why the format change: both neighbors’ (FM2 104.3 and Wish 107.5) rise, dwindling listenership (translating into low revenue), migration of DJs and outstanding and unsettled obligations from the last blocktimer.

Because of that, the aforementioned requester knew the situation will go worse but he made suggestions on who would be…

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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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Another Revamp for Retro 105.9 DCG-FM?

So much for being No. 1 in the upscale market.

Once again, Retro 105.9 DCG-FM is making some changes to its menu. For now, the station does not utilize any on-air talent (save for news reporter Karen Wu) and plays automated music instead.

Rumor has it that the station asked its DJs to file their dismissal papers for no reason at all. It is possible that a bad case of declining revenue has something to do with the issue.

However, a later report from a PinoyExchange insider clarified that the dismissal papers are only temporary and that some of the Retro DJs are being brought back as part of a possible revamp of the station. If that is true, then find out what will happen next.

While Retro 105.9 DCG-FM emerged as the top upscale FM radio station in Metro Manila, the emergence of 104.3 FM2 as its main competitor in the classic hits genre made it difficult for Retro to maintain its foothold in the market. As its impending revamp shows, nothing is cast in stone.

Listeners can only hope that Retro 105.9 DCG-FM will find a way to maintain some long-term viability amid increased competition. After all, it will be a shame to see this pioneering station go after all these years building up its reputation as the ‘home of the classics’.

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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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104.3 FM2 Poses New Challenge to Retro 105.9 DCG-FM

Retro 105.9 DCG-FM has a new rival.

Almost three years to the day Retro 105.9 made history as Metro Manila’s first classic hits-oriented radio station, a new network of the same genre began to emerge out of nowhere. On February 2, 104.3 FM2 made its maiden broadcast, with Bong ‘Sonny B’ Aportadera and Carlo ‘Carlo Jose’ Villo sharing the day-to-day operations of the new station.

For those who are not familiar with this station, DWBR 104.3 is owned by the Philippine government via the Philippine Broadcasting Service. Thus, the station is part of an umbrella that includes the People’s Television Network (PTV-4), DZRB Radyo ng Bayan 738, DZSR Sports Radio 918 and DZRM Radyo Magasin 1278.

The station was originally known as 104.3 Business Radio, playing mostly songs of the ‘big band’ era. They also covered business news that cater to affluent citizens, hence the name.

However, on January 15, Business Radio officially left the airwaves after over 30 years in operation. It was clear to Martin Andanar and the PCOO that the station is losing its luster, with its brand of ‘big band’ music getting out of touch with a modern generation of listeners.

As a result, the station underwent a drastic makeover in order to attract a younger audience. Thus 104.3 FM2 was born, with a playlist mainly dedicated to 80s and 90s music.

The establishment of FM2 became a turning point in the classic hits genre of FM radio in the country. While Retro 105.9 DCG-FM remains the premiere source for throwback songs, the emergence of FM2 could pose a threat to their dominance.

That said, listeners now have two options to find the music that they love and grew up with. Not to mention that both stations operate in the daytime and deep into midnight.

The entry of FM2 is only the beginning for Martin Andanar’s rebuilding of the PBS Group. Next up is an unnamed FM station on the 87.5 band, which is still in the testing stage.

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The New Friday Madness on Magic 89.9

It’s 80s out, 90s in for Magic 89.9’s Friday Madness starting today. (Logo courtesy of Quest Broadcasting Inc.)

A new sound awaits Magic 89.9’s Friday Madness.

Gone is the long-standing tradition of playing songs from the 1970s, 1980s and some of the early 1990s every Fridays. Instead, the music of the 1990s and early 2000s will dominate the playlist of Friday Madness.

This means that Friday Madness will adopt the old format of Saturday Slam, which Magic dropped earlier this year in favor of its regular playlist. More importantly, the station will only have one day dedicated to throwback music instead of two.

The newly-reformatted Friday Madness was one of only several changes instituted by Magic 89.9 as preparation for its upcoming 30th anniversary. Two weeks earlier, their weekday programming was also reformatted; save for ‘Good Times with Mo’ and ‘Boys’ Night Out’, the rest of Magic’s programs were either rebranded or changed DJ schedules.

The change of format for Friday Madness was a result of Magic’s ever-changing demographic. While some older listeners may still be loyal to Magic, the station is also attracting a large amount of younger followers, most of whom grew up in the social media age.

In addition, the continued emergence of Retro 105.9 DCG-FM as the go-to station for 70s and 80s music buffs made it clear that Friday Madness needed a makeover. It also hurts that competitor stations are also dedicating one day for 90s music (e.g. Monster RX 93.1’s Riot Wednesday, Mellow 947’s Decade, 99.5 Play FM’s Playback).

That said, with the station’s listeners getting younger, there’s no point in feeding them songs that are unfamiliar to their ears. For Magic, change was inevitable, and today was it.

It remains to be seen whether or not the new Friday Madness will adopt the regular Monday to Thursday schedules of its DJs (save for ‘Good Times with Mo’ and ‘Boys’ Night Out’). But in any event, people should enjoy the music of not too long ago, now playing on Friday Madness.

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