When WNOW-FM (105.3) switched programming Monday from regional Mexican to old school hits, it was the second major format flip in Charlotte radio this year. In July, Lite evaporated after two decades and was replaced by WLKO-FM (The Lake 102.9), featuring No. 1 songs from the last 30 years.
Two stations changing their formats in a single season is unusual in the competitive Charlotte radio market.
But its not over.
Sometime in the next month, WQNC-FM (My 92.7) will adopt a new sound, as yet unannounced.
Were not revealing yet whats going to happen, says Gary Weiss, regional vice president for the Carolinas for Radio One, which owns both WNOW-FM and WQNC-FM. Weve got plans for that station, and we think it will be well received.
Tom Joyners morning show will move from My 92.7 to Old School 105.3 when the format changes.
Radio Ones stable of Charlotte stations, which also includes inspirational WPZS-FM (Praise 100.9), is targeted at African-American listeners and competes head-on with CBS Radios top-ranked powerhouses WBAV-FM (V 101.9) and WPEG-FM (Power 98 97.9) in the so-called urban format.
Weiss said an extensive market survey was conducted by Radio One when the company was reaching agreement to buy WNOW-FM. It sampled 400 African-American listeners and 400 general listeners in Charlotte before deciding to offer old school hits from the 70s and 80s (think of artists like Luther Vandross, Isley Brothers and Anita Baker), a similar format to My 92.7, which also throws in contemporary music.
A lot of it has been in the My 92.7 library, but its like a skillful chef in the kitchen who mixes the ingredients in a different way and then, bingo! he said. Our team of experts is crafting this. Its a bit more up-tempo than what weve been doing on My 92.7.
Old School has been running commercial free, but that will change, probably next week, Weiss said. Advertising clients for My 92.7 will migrate over to the new station in advance of the format change.
Radio One has struggled in Charlotte against CBS Radio, in part because its stations didnt have the power to reach all corners of the metro region. Old School, however, has a strong signal thats audible about 70 miles away.
For now, the station is playing automated music, though local personalities may be added, Weiss says.
Promos on the station feature people saying theyve made the switch to Old School, and one of them directly targets listeners of WBAV-FM. A womans voice says she cant listen to 101.9 any more.
Thats old school, too, says Terri Avery, a radio veteran who manages CBS Radios urban stations and knows how to fight the fight. Its an old, old radio trick from back in the day. I did it back in the 80s.
Weiss says he respects his competitors, but its time for Radio One to strengthen its Charlotte operations.
Im not saying were going to mow over anyone, but for us, its a new start. Theyve done well in the ratings, but I think a lot of people are feeling theres an alternative station they can pick up now.
Urban radio has long been the No. 1 format in Charlotte radio, commanding 21 percent of the regions listening in the most recent Arbitron rankings. Country is No. 2 with 14 percent. Charlotte is the nations 24th largest radio market, with a population of 2.05 million. African-Americans compose 22 percent of that.
WBTV (Channel 3) will move its key newscasts during the Democratic National Convention to its roof. Located off West Morehead Street on a hill overlooking the skyline of uptown, WBTV will do its 5, 6, 7, and 11 p.m. newscasts from an improvised studio with anchors in director chairs beginning Monday. We have this gorgeous shot of uptown from the top of the building, says news director Dennis Milligan. We wanted to do something special for the DNC.
Former Fox Charlotte (WCCB, Channel 18) morning host Beth Troutman will be back on TV this month as RightThisMinute, a syndicated show focusing on popular viral videos, is renewed. It will air this fall on WAXN (Channel 64) at 12:30 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. Mark Peres will step down as executive director and president of the website CharlotteViewpoint.org in November. He founded it in 2003 as a locally-focused arts and culture forum and it has grown to be one of the top intellectual watering-holes in town.
Albemarles Kellie Pickler has been booked as one of the co-hosts for Anderson Coopers Anderson Live show, probably late in September. J. Donald Coleman of Hickory, the retired CEO of Hickory Springs Manufacturing Co., has been appointed to the UNC-TV board of trustees.