Tag Archives: K-Love

WPLJ Changed Format

WPLJOK, that’s not exactly new news. The latest New York City PPM Ratings show that WPLJ, now airing EMF’s Christian Contemporary K-Love format, went from a 3.1 (6+ Mon-Sun, 6a-12mid) before the format change to a 1.5 rating.

WPLJ Didn’t Die, It Changed — Again

On May 31st, the last day that WPLJ aired a Hot AC format before switching to a Contemporary Christian format, you would have thought the station had turned in their FCC license from all the hand wringing going on in the commercial radio community.

WPLJ, who’s call letters stood for White Port and Lemon Juice, began its life as WJZ-FM in the 1940s, later switching to WABC-FM WPLJ-FM's_95.5_Original_Logo_From_1971in the 1950s and simulcast 770AM-WABC. In the late 1960s it became one of the early album-oriented rock radio stations in America. On February 14, 1971 it was renamed WPLJ to clearly separate it, and its programming, from its Top 40 sister, Music Radio 77 – WABC, at that point in time the most listened to radio station in the world.

In June 1983, WPLJ changed from its album-oriented rock format to a hits format. (It was May 10, 1982 that 77-WABC changed its format from Music Radio to Talk Radio.)Power 95

On Thursday, December 17, 1987, WPLJ changed its call letters to WWPR to better promote its marketing slogan “Power 95” and its new Top 40/CHR format.

A year later, the call letters were switched back to WPLJ. mojoradio

In 1991 when Scott Shannon was hired, the branding was changed to MOJO Radio and by 1992 the station had transitioned to programming a Hot AC format calling itself “95-5 PLJ.”

Things Change

wklv-weremovingThe only constant in life is change.

The history of New York’s 95.5 FM signal has been one of both call letter and programming change since it was birthed in the 1940s. EMF changing the format to its popular and successful K-Love format does not spell the end of anything. It’s a new beginning.

Audience Surge

Those final days of the Hot AC version of WPLJ saw its raw Nielsen numbers take the station’s listenership rank from 13th to 3rd in the Big Apple.

It had nothing to do with the music played, or any of the other programming elements the station used, but it had much to do with the personalities that returned to WPLJ. The people behind the microphone caused a surge in people tuning in 95.5 FM. WPLJ listeners wanted to hear their favorite radio personalities one more time.

Radio’s Secret Weapon

To me it was living proof that radio’s secret weapon for attracting listeners is its air personalities.

Similar audience increases were witnessed in Washington, DC on WRQX and in Atlanta on WYAY, as each of those radio stations’ air personalities, past and present, said goodbye before turning over the keys to EMF and their national religious format.

EMF

The Educational Media Foundation (EMF) has grown into a Christian radio behemoth. It’s a nonprofit 503(C) 3 corporation that is supported by the listeners to its radio stations that become donors. Much like Public Radio, EMF radio stations conduct twice annual fundraisers and all listener contributions are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. EMF’s broadcast network is the largest Christian media radio network in the United States, now reaching over 47 states.

EMF states their primary purpose is “to create compelling media that inspires and encourages our listeners to have a meaningful relationship with Christ.” “The programming is designed to provide encouragement, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of the Christian heritage.”

It must be fulfilling its mission, as its listeners have continued to fund EMF’s growth year-after-year, and there’s no reason it will stop anytime soon.

Funded by Listener Support

Could your radio station fund itself by listener support? Have you invested in your programming and air personalities to create something so special that listeners want to support you for fear of losing the service you provide?

It certainly makes you stop and think about your value to the market you serve.

The WPLJ signal is one of the best FM signals in New York City and I’m sure that in its evolution to Contemporary Christian programming will allow it to enjoy a radio life for many years to come.

You might say, WPLJ has been born again

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Relevancy

82I am a trombone player. Or maybe I should say “was” as it’s been quite a few years since I picked up the horn. Growing up, I knew that was the instrument I wanted to play. Out of all the instruments in the band, trombone was the one that caught my attention and was relevant to me.

76 Trombones

Meredith Wilson’s Broadway smash “The Music Man” is one of my all time favorite musicals. Can you guess why?

In that production, Robert Preston knows to be successful in selling band instruments “you gotta know the territory.” In fact, all of the carpetbaggers knew this. In “The Music Man” the song “Rock Island Line” establishes the rules of selling on the road. In other words, you had to know how to make what you were selling relevant.

And then I heard someone say RADIO

Alan Mason is a programmer that I’ve known for years. I subscribe to his weekly “Mason Minutes” and was thrilled to see Alan promoted to President of K-Love and Air1 as this New Year began. Alan actually assumed his presidency before Trump did.

Alan’s minute recently told the story of celebrating his birthday in a crowded restaurant. You know the scene, you hear lots of conversations but you’re not really paying attention. When Alan said he heard someone say “RADIO” and he heard that clearly.

“It’s funny how our minds are attuned to filter out almost everything except what’s relevant to us. We can be in a crowded ballroom buzzing with people and still hear our own name. It gets our attention and pulls us in,” Alan wrote.

Frost Advisory

I also subscribe to John Frost’s weekly “Frost Advisory” and John must have been as taken by what Alan wrote as I because he made it the subject of his programming memo this past week. John wrote about his friend Eddie who needed to get a passport photo. He went online and found a place all the way across town. It wasn’t until he was on his way home he noticed a camera store near where he lived that took passport photos. He never noticed, because getting a passport photo had no relevance to Eddie, until it did.

Radio Ads

And that’s the way it is with radio ads. The listener never hears them until something that’s relevant to them speaks to them.

Sadly, radio programmers no longer have a say in what commercials air on their radio stations.

I was a general manager before becoming a broadcast professor and even I had lost control of what ads would be placed on my radio stations by (at that time) Google.

Google did a deal with Clear Channel and would insert ads they had sold on all of the stations in my cluster between 2am and 3am in the morning. I wouldn’t even know what they had sold until I heard it on-the-air driving into the station.

I heard ads for restaurants advertising their lunch special for that day and the restaurant was over three hours away from my coverage area. I heard ads out-of-phase air on my AM station in the cluster that were 30-seconds of dead-air. (Out of phase ads means the left and right channels of audio cancel each other out on an AM mono signal.)

Bonneville Beautiful Music

When I moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1984, WFPG-FM was a Bonneville Beautiful Music station. Bonneville had strict guidelines about what content could be added to their music presentation and that included commercials.

Atlantic City’s biggest car dealer did the loudest screaming radio ads you’ve ever heard. We dearly wanted their business but not those screaming ads.

It took lots of meetings but we finally convinced the owner not to “wear a t-shirt to our black tie” radio station over-the-air presentation. We would be the only radio station in Atlantic City to have specially created ads that would perfectly fit the musical content of our format.

I don’t hear that happening on any radio station today.

Relevancy

Today, money talks and nobody walks.

Radio stations appear to take every ad that comes through the door.

When you consider the volume of ads airing on stations these days, one or two ads in that cluster than aren’t relevant might lose the listener’s ear or worse, cause the station to be changed.

WAVV in Naples, Florida is a station that marches to a different drummer. It plays music the owner enjoys and the sound is so unique it can’t be heard anywhere else. It’s why the station doesn’t stream. You have to listen to it over-the-air on your FM radio. But what makes WAVV golden in my book is that the commercial breaks are just as carefully watched over as the music. The ads are about things that listeners attracted by the music will also enjoy. Be it theater, dining, travel, clothing etc.; it’s all relevant.

John Frost ends his article by writing “We throw a bunch of stuff at the wall without using the precise filter of relevance. Start with the listener and work back. What does she care about RIGHT NOW?”

Unless the program director is given the authority to approve every element that goes on the air and insure that each goes through the relevancy test, your product is compromised.

Is what I wrote relevant to your radio station?

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