Update 9/19: WMAL has confirmed it will begin simulcasting at 105.9 today at 12pm.
Instant Insight: The move is needed to give WMAL any chance at remaining competitive in the Washington market. Due to sprawl and being so close to neighboring markets, AM’s in Washington do not fully cover the entire metropolitan area. News WTOP added a suburban FM signal in 1997 and moved to FM completely in 2006, Sports WTEM added two suburban FM’s in 2008. That said, the 105.9 signal is not fully optimized in the market. In Maryland, 105.9 deals with adjacent channel interference from Baltimore’s 105.7 WJZ-FM.
The Press Release Follows:
Washington’s 630 WMAL AM Now Available on FM
Cumulus Announces Simulcast on 105.9 WVRX FM
First Platform Change Following Acquisition of Citadel Stations
WASHINGTON, DC, September 19 — In an effort to compete directly with nation’s highest-grossing radio station, Cumulus media today at noon begins simulcasting news and talk programming from 630 AM WMAL on 105.9 FM WVRX — providing FM listeners in the DC area with access to WMAL’s 85 years of award-winning programming and community service.
“By expanding our successful brand to the FM dial, we will be a viable listening and advertising option for many more people in the Washington, DC, area,” said WMAL President/General Manager Jeff Boden. “There are many potential listeners who never listen on AM, and we are now making programs of wide interest available to the largest possible audience.”
Programming simulcast as of noon today on AM and FM includes The Chris Plante Show, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and “Morning Majority” (hosted by former Fox News anchor Brian Wilson, “The Daily Caller’s” Mary Katharine Ham and WMAL veteran Bryan Nehman).
This simulcast uniquely positions WMAL/WVRX to compete head-to-head with WTOP, whose $57 million in annual ad sales make it the highest-grossing station in the nation. While WTOP has a repetitive news-wheel format, WMAL/WVRX programming is interactive through a mix of news reports and call-in shows that allow for engagement with listeners.
“When we grew to 570 stations nationwide last week after closing the Citadel deal, I told my team to be creative at using innovative ways for the newly acquired stations to bolster our community involvement, and that’s what our Washington, DC, team has done so elegantly here,” said Lew Dickey, CEO of Cumulus.
On Friday, following approval from the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, Cumulus completed a $2.2 billion purchase of Citadel Broadcasting and is now the nation’s largest pure-play radio owner with 570 stations reaching 93% of Americans each week.
ABOUT CUMULUS MEDIA
Cumulus Media is the largest pure-play radio broadcaster in the United States, and owns or operates more than 570 radio stations in 120 markets and a nationwide radio network serving more than 4,000 stations. Cumulus Mediaâ€™s headquarters are in Atlanta, GA, and its web site is www.cumulus.com.
Original Report 9/18: The first change from the combined Cumulus and Citadel looks to be taking place Monday in Washington, DC. Both morning co-host Mike O’Meara and afternoon host Cerphe Colwell, at Classic Rock “105.9 The Edge” WVRX have posted on Facebook that they and the rest of the staff have been let go and that the station will be flipping on Monday.
Most speculation revolves around the station flipping to a simulcast of sister News/Talk 630 WMAL. While that makes the most sense, nothing has been confirmed so far.