Does Cumulus Have Plans For The WRXP Calls After All?

103.9 WRXP RXP WFAS WFAS-FM Jay Michaels Lauren Crocker Jolana Smith Cumulus Alternative RockNow that Cumulus has launched Country “Nash-FM” on 94.7 WRXP Newark and the WNSH calls are en-route from their temporary home in Minnesota, it appears that there was a reason that the company brought the WRXP call letters out of mothballs after all.

Following registrations of eleven domains on Monday, Cumulus looks to be preparing a flip of suburban AC 103.9 WFAS-FM Bronxville to the WRXP calls and an Alternative or other Rock based format. The company registered 1039WRXP.com, WRXPFM.com, and WRXP1039.com (as well as .net and .org versions of) along with WRXP.net and .org on January 21.

The WRXP calls have been used at the two most recent attempts at Alternative Rock in New York on Emmis’ “The Rock Experience – 101.9 RXP” from 2008 until 2011 and Merlin Media’s reboot as “New Rock 101.9” from June to October of 2012 following the demise of its “FM News” brand. Cumulus claimed the calls as a placeholder for 94.7 Newark on January 14.

WFAS-FM has a built-out CP waiting to go live to operate from the northern Bronx with 980 watts at 203.4 meters. The station will serve portions of the New York market, including the boroughs of The Bronx, northern Manhattan and parts of Queens as well as suburban Westchester County, parts of Nassau County on Long Island, and Bergen County, NJ. It currently programs a Westchester targeted AC format from its existing tower in White Plains.

Earlier this month Cumulus hired Jolana Smith from Cox AC “Star 99.9” WEZN Bridgeport, CT to serve as PD of WFAS-FM and sister Talk 1230 WFAS. Smith is also midday host of 103.9. While this would seem to negate a format change at the station, Cumulus also brought in a new market manager in Kim Bryant, which could have led to a change in plans along with the audience feedback to the recent stunting on 94.7.

Comments

  1. fireguy8 says

    While it takes some major gravitas to try to court the very people you just ‘kicked’ for the 3rd time with the calls and by just teasing them the first time with the calls on 94.7, a format change isn’t entirely surprising.
    3 things come to mind: 1) Ratings show they are soundly behind WHUD in Westchester where they are now. 2) After they ‘move-in’ it’s probably a little too close for comfort musically to co-owned WPLJ. 3) Most obviously, AC is a crowded space in NYC, all by big legacy players with much bigger signals.

    With Nash-FM launching, Cumulus has strongly hinted on focusing on the suburbs. We know PLJ does that, NashFM will do that, Alternative would too, and they would have it all to themselves.

  2. m says

    WRXP would have to have some type of coverage in the Poughkepsee Markets or something to cover areas in Northern Passaic & Morris to compensate for 103.9′s bad signal especially in those areas where WNNJ-FM on 103.7 interfers with 103.9.

    • fireguy8 says

      I didn’t think about that, makes you wonder if it would be associated with WRRV up that way. It certainly would help them in the new Hudson Valley Book as neither 92.7 or 96.9 cover the southern half of that ‘new’ market. I doubt it though, whatever ends up on 103.9 would need to be more polished than what’s currently offered on WRRV anyway.

  3. Paul Horse says

    The Hudson Valley book is laughable. There is only 1 station that could possibly finish #1. That’s like the Knicks beating the school for the blind in basketball.

    WFAS had poor ratings because they went away from doing what they did best. They dabbled in teeny bopper music over the past year. Putting yourself against the blowtorches in the city was suicide. They don’t have the signal to do that, they were too cheap to promote it and put a bunch of CSB hacks on the air. Now they seem to be back to doing what they were doing. They should see a rebound in their ratings.

    Alternative would net a much smaller piece of the pie. There really isn’t a target audience for this in Westchester. It’s too expensive for the young bucks to live here, and the ones that do are listening to the ethnic stations.

    Since it really makes no sense to do this, I expect they stuffed suits will probably make the move in a couple of weeks!

  4. DanM says

    I’m surprised only one comment mentions WXPK 107.1 “The Peak.” It’s already established as an adult-alternative station in Westchester-Rockland and nearby parts of Fairfield County CT. It would make little sense for WFAS to go head-to-head against it. I suppose Cumulus could give it the WRXP calls and make it a harder-edged rocker, like WRAT 95.9 Point Pleasant NJ. But to my ear, RXP’s sound was closer to XPK’s.

    • fireguy8 says

      The Peak isn’t mentioned because it doesn’t cater to NYC (‘New York’s Backyard’) as Cumulus intends to do with the move in, and 107.1 is an awful signal. RXP 2.0 had maybe 25% crossover on average with it – Peak is AAA. Why would it make little sense? They are already trying to compete with WHUD (bigger, better, been around way longer) and losing badly.

  5. Paul Horse says

    The Peak isn’t mentioned because they aren’t really a quintessential Alternative Rock station. They are really Adult Album Alternative. The difference being deeper album cuts, a few pop songs mixes in. Sure, you will hear the Cure, the Smiths and Nirvana, but it is a quarter of the playlist.

    Interestingly enough, 107.1 was a true alternative rock station a couple of years pre Mega and pre Country as WXPS. It wasn’t very successful.

    The biggest reason WFAS won’t do this is because they would be starting a new format which would take a little time and money. The stuffed suit are not only impatient, but cheap as cheap gets.

  6. EnoughAlready says

    It is inexcusable to exclude Brooklyn, Staten Island, half of queens, midtown southward, most of Long Island and Jersey. If only half the NYC area can tune this station, it’s an extremely stupid decision! Flip WPLJ. Let’s admit it already, there are enough Z100 and Lite-FM clones. Rock has played before on PLJ, do it again.101.9FM ratings before CBS brought them should tell any marketer with eyes and intelligence that there is a market for alternative rock. Do the right thing.You’d have 2 markets that have been deprived by the same company. Cumulus is sitting on a gold mine and can’t even see it.

    • says

      WPLJ is one of if not the biggest revenue generators in the company, it is going nowhere.

      Beggars can’t be choosers. If 103.9 does flip to Alternative and then over-performs Cumulus or another company will take advantage of the success of it.

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