Monday, November 20, 2017

11.20.17 BACK PAGE: Is 89X done?

89X fires former PD while CBS's new owner might flip one to alternative

Is the (ahem) Bell tolling at longtime Canadian alternative radio station 89X out of Windsor/Detroit?
Last week, the station fired long-time programming director Phat Matt, leaving the once-prominent station with just one local jock, morning man Mark MacKenzie, who now has a grueling shift from 6 a.m. to 12 noon. The rest of the day is filled with voicetracked jocks from their sister station in London, ON, Virgin Radio. 

As we reported in April, 89X's Detroit office was closed, leaving 20 staffers including some long-time jocks out of work. 89X's ratings on this side of the border have been weak as of late, in part due to Dave and Chuck the Freak's move to 101 WRIF a few years ago.

But, will 89X's last nail be tapped shut?

With Entercom's purchase of CBS Radio being finalized last week, they've already flipped Howard Stern's old New York stomping grounds  - which had been CHR as Amp 92.3 - to alternative as "Alt 92.3". The Big Apple hadn't been with any new rock station since CBS flipped 101.9 to sports WFAN five years ago. 

Now, the question is, will Entercom flip one of their Detroit properties? They now own CHR Amp 98.7, country WYCD 99.5, oldies WOMC 104.3, sports 97.1 The Ticket and CBS Sports Radio 1270 and all-news WWJ 950.

Of all the stations they own in Motown, Amp *should* be the one that's toast. They're getting killed by iHeartMedia's Channel 955 in the ratings. Bear in mind that 98.7 was the old home of the legendary WLLZ 98.7, which flipped to smooth jazz in the 90s and then to Amp a few years ago. 
In the most-recent Nielsen book, Amp was 15th place with a 2.7 share. Channel was at a 5.0 in 7th place. It's Entercom's lowest-rated FM station.

Currently, Detroit only has three new rock stations: WRIF plus 89X and 93.9 The River out of Windsor. With 89X trimming its staff and shoving CanCon down Detroit's throat, is it time for Entercom to unplug Amp and go American alternative on 98.7? I think so. 

IMO, alternative can do well if it's done right. 89X's problem is that Bell Media doesn't seem to give two shits about that station or even its American listeners. When Dave and Chuck the Freak were there, they had a 3 share. When Bell was still subscribing to the Nielsens, 89X had sunk down to a 1 share, making them Motown's least-listened-to radio station. I think what's killing 89X includes their crappy dial position next to public radio stations and the aforementioned CanCon that's required by the Canadian government. 

Only time will tell. Detroit deserves better than having to hear stiffs only Canadians like.

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