Monday, August 14, 2006

Color me aggravated. I don't have all that many favorite radio stations as it is, and I hate it when one of them falls off the air. I just got a call from Joe M., asking me if I'd seen or heard anything about programming changes to 104.5 FM, as it's currently simulcasting with 106.1 FM. I hadn't, so I took a look online. This was in the Philly Inquirer a few days ago. Let's have a moment of silence for Sunny 104.5, shall we?

Changes in the air at two radio stations

By Michael Klein

Sunny 104.5 and Smooth Jazz 106.1 went dark at noon today as Clear Channel Radio set up changes at the stations.

WJJZ-FM (106.1) - longtime home of mellow tunes from artists such as Dave Koz, David Sanborn and Spyro Gyra - became "Philly's 106.1" with a bouncy format known in the trade as rhythmic adult-contemporary. It's an uptempo mix of music aimed at adult women. (Sample: Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," Rihanna's "Unfaithful," Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie," and Madonna's "Sorry.")

Philly's 106.1 also will get comedian Whoopi Goldberg's new syndicated four-hour morning show, Wake Up With Whoopi. It starts at 5 a.m. Monday.

Clear Channel, the nation's largest radio operator, is not expected to disclose plans for 104.5 until next week.

In the meantime, the new 106.1 signal is simulcast on 104.5.

"There's an open lane in the Philadelphia market for Philly 106.1," said Manuel Rodriguez, who runs Philadelphia's Clear Channel stations. "We're targeting women - but to try to describe the station with typical demographics doesn't do it justice. We're going for the woman who is too young for B101 and too old for Q102 - both great stations. The station is about women for women. We're talking to - not at them. That's why a superstar personality like Whoopi Goldberg is perfect for Philly 106.1."

Brian Check, Sunny 104.5's program director, is now program director at 106.1.

Smooth Jazz program director/morning personality Michael Tozzi was working today, but many WSNI/WJJZ staffers were let go Wednesday.

A rock format is not considered likely for 104.5. One rumor says 104.5 will be a Spanish format, which would make it the city's first full-time Spanish FM station. A Jersey Shore station briefly tried Spanish dance music a few years ago on 104.9, but it hardly made a rumba in the ratings. Another rumor is a talk format.

Smooth Jazz - featuring a mellow mixture of light pop and jazz instrumentals - started at 1:06 p.m. March 12, 1993, replacing a top-40 rock station called Eagle 106.

Smooth Jazz was 10th in the city in the overall spring Arbitron ratings. The station's demise may leave doctors' waiting rooms silent, save for the murmuring of patients complaining about long waits.

Its last song was the soulful Daryl Hall solo version of "She's Gone." After a pause, 106.1 blared forth with the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started," followed by 2 Unlimited's "Get Ready for This" and Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Starting Something."

Sunny 104.5 - known as a light-rock or "adult-contemporary" station - began Aug. 1, 2002, and replaced a marginally livelier rock format called Alice. The Sunny 104.5 moniker had a previous incarnation, from 1980 through 1990.

Sunny competed directly against WBEB-FM (101.1), Philadelphia's highest-rated music station. Its ratings were middling at best.

Sunny's last song was Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," a tip to "Here Comes the Sun," which the station played for 21 hours straight when it went on the air four years ago.

Besides the stations at 104.5 and 106.1, Clear Channel also owns urban-contemporary WUSL-FM (98.9), top-40 WIOQ-FM (102.1), gospel WDAS-AM (1480) and urban adult contemporary WDAS-FM (105.3).

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