Cumulus Media finally ended the months of speculation at 9:47am, confirming what we’ve told you since November that the station would become “94.7 Nash-FM” as the flagship of a national Country brand.
The station debuted with a montage of New York references leading into artist drops from “the one thing missing”. The station is branded as “The World’s Biggest Country Station” and “Country For Life”. Listen to the launch of “94.7 Nash-FM“ at FormatChange.com.
The first hour consisted of:
Randy Houser – This Is How Country Feels
Alan Jackson – Gone Country
Brad Paisley – Southern Comfort Zone
Brooks & Dunn – Boot Scootin’ Boogie
Carrie Underwood – Blown Away
Lady Antebellum – I Run To You
The Band Perry – Better Dig Two
Garth Brooks – Friends In Low Places
Jason Aldean – My Kind Of Party
Taylor Swift – Begin Again
George Strait – Write This Down
Thompson Square – You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not
Lee Brice – I Drive Your Truck
Reba McIntyre – Turn On The Radio
Zac Brown Band – Free
Dierks Bentley – 5-1-5-0
Kenny Chesney – Big Star
Eric Church – Springsteen
Update 1/20: In what will probably be our final update before tomorrow’s launch, we can also add that a dozen trademark applications for “Nash” were made by Cumulus over the past few months. Any doubt over the new format should be lifted by this point.
The stunt loop has included regular stalwarts such as Smooth Jazz, All Michael Jackson, Comedy, and Classic Country to all New Jersey artists and current hits mixed with 77 WABC airchecks. Listen to the complete loop on Airchexx.com.
Meanwhile, NashFM.com and 947NashFM.com are both now redirecting to NashFM947.com on a staging server. Are they being prepared for activation? We’ve yet to identify any other 94.7 related domain registrations made by Cumulus. As we first reported in November, it was likely Cumulus was going to use 94.7 to launch the NashFM Country brand.
Update 1/14: As 94.7 began its use of the WRXP call letters this morning, Cumulus made its first public reveal of the station as WPLJ morning hosts Scott Shannon and Todd Pettengill began asking listeners what they’d like to hear on 94.7 going forward (audio here).
They’ve handed us control of 94.7 FM in New York City.What kind of music should we play?
— Scott & Todd (@ScottandTodd) January 14, 2013
INSTANT INSIGHT: We now have phase one in generating attention to the new signal. If/when Cumulus is ready to launch they now have begun a campaign to at least generate some attention to a station that has not served a secular audience in multiple generations.
On the other end of the deal, 106.3 WDVY Mount Kisco ended its simulcast of “Kicks 105.5” WDBY Patterson, NY/Danbury, CT at 6am this morning and went dark as it prepares to relaunch as part of Family Radio.
Update 1/11: Family Radio bid farewell to 94.7 WFME at 3:40pm this afternoon. After a few minutes of dead air as the programming source was moved to Cumulus’ studios at 2 Penn Plaza in Manhattan, the station returned to air under the WRXP call letters in a shadowcast of new sister 95.5 WPLJ. The audio of 94.7 is about 15 seconds ahead of 95.5 with many tweaks being made to the audio processing as Cumulus prepares its new acquisition for whatever’s next.
Update 1/10: Cumulus has yet to assume programming of 94.7, but wheels are in motion behind the scenes. We caught the station testing an HD signal for a couple hours earlier today.
More importantly, the company has applied for new call letters for the station that have some familiarity in the market. WRXP was applied for on January 7 by Radio Licensing X, LLC, the holding company that possesses the licenses to WFME and new sister 770 WABC.
The WRXP calls were used in New York for the two most recent attempts at Alternative Rock on 101.9 from 2008-2011 and again in 2012. Does this spell out the real direction or is it a potential decoy? As we’ve noted before, Cumulus is pretty strong in programming Country nationwide, however its largest market with an Alternative Rock format is Salt Lake City. And if attempting Alternative again, why resurrect call letters that technically have failed twice in the market? We’re still expecting to see Country when all is said and done.
Update 1/9: Cumulus has closed on its acquisition of WFME and dispersal of 106.3 WDVY Mount Kisco to Family Stations. Action in regards to programming should be fairly imminent.
Update 1/4: The FCC has approved Cumulus purchase of WFME today. No timetable yet on when the deal will close and Cumulus will begin operating the station.
As far as formats go, all signs continue to point towards the “Nash-FM” Country brand and the WNSH call letters parked in Minnesota.
Update 10/22: The acquisition of WFME by Cumulus has been filed with the FCC. The deal is not as straightforward as originally believed.
As part of the sale, Family Stations will receive Country “Kicks 106.3” WDVY Mount Kisco NY which serves portions of suburban Westchester County and $40 Million. There are a couple of clauses that will escalate the amount paid. Should Cumulus move WFME to any spot in the five boroughs of New York City as a Class A or B1 in the next five years, it will pay Family an additional $8.5 Million. If the upgrade is as something higher than a B1 the fee goes up to $10 Million. If Family resells WDVY before Cumulus makes an upgrade, the additional fee will be subtracted by the sale price of WDVY above $1 Million.
Both companies will retain the existing call letters of their stations.
Original Report 10/16: Family Stations has sold 94.7 WFME Newark NJ/New York to Cumulus Media.
WFME was the last commercial band FM in Family Stations portfolio following sales of stations in Maryland and Philadelphia last year. The station will now join a Cumulus cluster that includes Talk 770 WABC and Adult CHR 95.5 WPLJ along with a few suburban stations.
Cumulus plans on closing on the station by the end of the year and will announce programming plans at that time. In a statement to the press, Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey stated, “This strategic acquisition of our second FM in the nation’s largest market will enable us to provide compelling new programming for our listeners and a powerful marketing vehicle for our advertising partners.”
WFME’s signal is weaker than the rest of the commercial band FM’s in the market as its tower is in West Orange, NJ about 15 miles west of midtown Manhattan. It is shortspaced to multiple stations, including Cumulus’ 94.7 WMAS-FM Enfield CT/Springfield MA, a downgrade of which may remove the biggest hinderance to moving WFME to the city itself.