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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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Retro 105.9’s Impact on Other Stations’ Programming

The success of Retro 105.9 DCG-FM forced radio stations like Magic 89.9 and Monster Radio RX 93.1 to tweak their throwback programs. (Logo courtesy of Retro 105.9 DCG-FM)

The rise of Retro 105.9 DCG-FM has other stations take notice.

Within six months of operation, older listeners were constantly hooked to Retro 105.9’s daily serving of classic songs and hidden gems, something that was never done before on Philippine FM radio. The addiction was so great that it forced other stations to tweak their classic programming.

Spearheading the change were the two top stations in the CHR/Top 40 format: Magic 89.9 and Monster Radio RX 93.1.

For years, Magic 89.9’s ‘Friday Madness’ and ‘Saturday Slam’ had essentially the same format, with the 80s mostly reserved for the former, and the 90s for the latter. They even had a non-stop dance remix show for the final three hours.

But last June, everything changed for the station. ‘Friday Madness’ was reduced to only 21 hours, with ‘Jon Tupaz’s 12-inch Mix’ moving from its familiar 9 p.m. slot to noontime. Then Tupaz’s vacated slot was taken over by ‘Slamma Jamma’, which is now the kickoff show for ‘Saturday Slam’.

‘Slamma Jamma”s slot on Saturday night was then used to create yet another remix show, this time centering on the 2000s and beyond and featuring the country’s top club DJs rather than Magic’s own talent. That show, dubbed ‘Saturday Night Take Over’, made its debut that same month.

Over at Monster Radio RX 93.1, their ‘Monster’s Riot’ format remained the same, save for two programs. ‘Back to the 80s’, the flagship program of the said block, finally said goodbye in June after over a decade.

‘Throwback: The Year That Was’ took over ‘Back to the 80s” slot. Hosted by Chico Garcia, ‘Throwback’ now encompasses every era, from the 80s all the way to the 2000s, with a particular year’s hits to focus on.

And just months earlier, ‘Riot Remix’ bade goodbye on air, leaving ‘Remix Fridays’ as the sole remix program on the station. These two changes were the direct result of ‘Monster’s Riot”s changing playlist, emphasizing more towards the 90s and 2000s hits for an increasingly younger audience.

Elsewhere, stations such as Mellow 947 and 99.5 Play FM are now taking a similar path as RX’ s in their throwback programs.

The Philippine radio industry is a constantly changing world. Audiences are getting younger, technologies are advancing, and the music is evolving. The efforts of the Top 40 radio stations are a part of the turnover.

This turnover was definitely the reason why Retro 105.9 DCG-FM was established. As the other stations aim for the youth, Retro 105.9 focused on the older folks who still believe in ‘oldies but goodies’. And indeed it is; no matter how old the playlist is, they are still wonderful to listen to.

Indeed, times are changing in the Philippine radio industry. And for these radio stations, constant transformation is essential to maintaining success.

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