106.7 The D Makes Late Evening Flip To Alternative

Alt 106.7 The D WDTW Detroit 89XAs we first reported earlier in the day, iHeartMedia flipped Variety Hits “106.7 The D” WDTW-FM Detroit to Alternative on Monday evening.

“Detroit’s New Alternative” launched at 9:24 this evening with 10,000 songs commercial-free. The new launch gives Detroit its first US based Alternative station since “105.1 The Edge” flipped to Rhythmic Oldies in 1999. Bell Media’s “89X” 88.7 CIMX Windsor ON has mostly served as the de-facto Alternative outlet in Detroit since its launch in 1991, however that station closed its Detroit sales office in March along with letting much of much of its airstaff go.

WDTW-FM had segued from Rock to Variety Hits over Memorial Day Weekend. Since then the station has dropped from the 2.7 share it held in the April 2017 Nielsen Audio ratings to a 2.2 share in October which placed it nineteenth in the market.

Did iHeart rush the flip out of fear Entercom was preparing to take one of their stations to Alternative?

The first hour of Alt 106.7 consisted of:
White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Weezer – Undone (The Sweater Song)
Foo Fighters – Everlong
Portugal, The Man – Feel It Still
Marcy Playground – Sex and Candy
Kings of Leon – Waste A Moment
Blink 182 – First Date
Third Eye Blind – Jumper
Theory of a Deadman – Rx (Medicate)
Jimmy Eat World – The Middle
Twenty One Pilots – Ride
Judah & the Lion – Take It All Back 2.0
Sublime – Wrong Way
AWOLNATION – Sail
Imagine Dragons – Believer
Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
Spoon – Can I Sit Next To You

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

17 Comments


  1. 89X I think Still says “Detroit/Windsor’s New Alternative”. This station seems a bit more gold-based. Either way, there are now 2 Detroit alternative stations, and yes, 89X has significant listenership near Detroit.


    • 89X is now strictly Canadian. No Detroit sales office as Lance referenced. No Detroit request line either. Plus the station’s website is on a .ca domain.
      As for that “significant listenership near Detroit”, Bell Media no longer subscribes to Nielsen Audio.


      • They all still have a “Detroit Switchboard” which is a toll free 888 number. 1-888-902-6222


        • That and calling Canada has never been cheaper (If not free) So they technically do not really need a Detroit number. You can get a free Google Voice account and call for free. Most cable company phone services which account for the vast majority of landlines these days also do not charge to call Canada. T-Mobile made Canada and Mexico the same as making a domestic call a couple years back. Canadian Toll Free (800, 888, etc) numbers have always been toll free from the U.S. as far as I know. Never been charged for calling them over the years.


    • Even if they had a significant audience in Michigan, it doesn’t matter because Bell Media is not selling that audience to advertisers. They are only targeting the Canadian side of the border, where even there it’s ratings are not that high.

      In the Spring survey period by Numeris (the Canadian ratings measurement company), 89X ranked seventh of nine subscribing stations with a 3.0 share. In its final monthly ranked by Nielsen in the Detroit market the station had a 1.4 share in April.


    • From Google: 89X is Windsor/Detroit’s New Rock Alternative – CIMX-FM is part of iHeartRADIO


      • Bell Media licenses the iHeartRadio brand for its streaming properties in Canada. There is no connection between the two company’s operations.


        • BellMedia did go one step further than the US iHeartRadio in merging all of their radio station websites into the iHeartRadio.ca portal (not unlike the CBS Local portals, but one portal that is company-wide). Which kinda doesn’t help with the confusion factor.


          • The Windsor Bell Media stations are the only ones as far as I know that give weather forecasts exclusively in Fahrenheit, and do not geoblock their streams outside of Canada.


  2. I don’t know if I’d describe a 1 share as “significant listenership.”

    89X hasn’t had competitive ratings in Detroit since 2013 or 2014.

    Their numbers have also crashed in Essex County, ON over the past few years.

    This is Modern Hits Planet 96.3 part deux. This station will be a non-player, which pretty much describes every format 106.7 has sported since dumping W4 in 1999. As Classic Rock, 106.7 The D did see success for roughly its first 12 to 18 months, but minimal investment in local air talent combined with an increasingly predictable playlist did not allow that success to persist.

    The Variety Hits format should’ve been given more time and more promotion. I heard zero cross-promotion of it on 100.3 or 95.5. I think a lot of folks still assumed 106.7 was playing “butt rock” these past several months. I liked 106.7’s version of Variety Hits much better than the former 93.1 Doug FM.


  3. Wait where’s the awesome iHeart press release with multiple levels of local, regional and national management commenting on the impending ratings and revenue explosion that will benefit listeners and advertisers alike…..?!!


  4. 89X fell apart years ago when WRIF poached their morning show, then they gutted most of the airstaff… and that was before BellMedia abandoned any sort of targeting towards Detroit.


    • …which was before long-time PD “Phat Matt” Franklin left or (more likely) was let go in the Bell’s latest round of cutbacks. I’m actually concerned about the company’s overall commitment to the formats at both 89X and The River.


      • True, but what would they run? Problem for Bell is that most formats have already been spoken for.


        • Indeed. Bell’s local FMs are squeezed both by the Detroit stations and by Blackburn’s (which pretty much take care of the mainstream music formats on the Canadian side). With the launch of Alt, though, it looks like the former is going to get worse: Alt may be between 89X and (to a lesser extent) The River–with 89X perhaps between Alt and (to a lesser extent) WRIF.

          Bell may have to make a decision about whether it tries to take a big chance on a truly niche format that could work at least somewhat on the U.S. side, or instead continues to see its existing niches whittled down. If Bell really is thinking about a new, truly niche format here, my first inclination would be an EDM-heavy Dance outlet (assuming that there’d be enough Cancon for it)–partly because Detroit is still famous for its scene (e.g., the Movement festival).


  5. This was a pre-emptive strike against the “new” Entercom.


  6. Why do you think that, Joseph?

    WDZH competes directly with WKQI, although it’s no secret WDZH’s audience skews younger (and DZH’s in-demo and overall ratings have been significantly lower than KQI for years).

    Had WDZH dumped “Amp” for “Alt,” it would’ve benefited WKQI and iHeart. 95.5 would’ve returned to first place in ages 18-34.

    My guess is this change is something iHeart has been considering for a while. Perhaps Entercom’s closing of the CBS Radio takeover and the looming Thanksgiving holiday accelerated the timetable.

    I will say this – rhythmic leaning CHR is not quite as popular in this market as it once was. Hot AC 96.3 WDVD, for the most part, is pulling very decent 18-34 #’s these days, at times rivaling WKQI in that space. 105.1 The Bounce has also nipped WKQI.

    More than anything, I think this change is about reinforcing iHeart’s ability to deliver 18-34 #’s in the Detroit market, especially college educated Caucasian listeners in their 20’s and early 30’s.

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