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Real 98.3 Brings Urban Battle To Indianapolis

Big 98.3 WUBG Real WZRL Indianapolis iHeartMedia Breakfast Club Bobby BonesiHeartMedia indeed launched Urban “Real 98.3” WZRL Plainfield/Indianapolis IN at noon today.

The new format will debut commercial-free and jockless for the month of October with the usual 10,000 “joints” in a row. The syndicated Breakfast Club will debut in mornings on Thursday, November 3.

iHeartMedia Indianapolis flips Country WUBG-FM to Urban as “Real 98.3,” with the slogan “The new home of Hip Hop and R&B for Indianapolis.” The station will kick off with “10,000 joints in a row” commercial-free, featuring hits from Hip Hop and R&B artists like Drake, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Usher, Jay-Z and Beyonce. In addition, Real 98.3 will be anchored by syndicated “The Breakfast Club” in mornings beginning November 3 and features DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God.

“We are Nap’s new home for Hip Hop and R&B,” said iHeartMedia Indianapolis Senior VP/Programming Mike Killabrew. “There’s no better way to establish that than by kicking things off with 10,000 songs in a row.”

“This is an exciting and powerful addition to the iHeartMedia Indianapolis portfolio,” added iHeartMedia’s Kentucky-Indiana Region and Senior VP/Urban Operations President Earl Jones. “Hip Hop is thriving and I can’t wait to get things rolling.”

Real 98.3’s full programming lineup will be announced soon. Fans can listen to Real 98.3 on the station’s website,, and on iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s all-in-one digital music and live streaming radio service.

Original Report 10/2: iHeartMedia has pulled the plug on low-rated Country “Big 98.3” Plainfield/Indianapolis IN as the station is now running a loop promoting “Change Is Coming” at 12pm on Monday, October 3.

As we reported on on September 1, iHeart had registered and with WUBG as the likely recipient. iHeart has reserved new WZRL call letters, which confirms the Real branding and Urban format coming to the station.

The Indianapolis rimshot was acquired by iHeartMedia in May 2015 along with an AM in Salt Lake City as part of Radio Disney’s sell-off for $1.95 million and flipped to Country in July 2015. As the third Country FM in the market, it never had much of an impact on Emmis’ “97.1 Hank-FM” WLHK and Cumulus’ 95.5 WFMS. In the just released September Nielsen Audio ratings, WUBG had a 1.0 share to WFMS’ 6.0 and WLHK’s 4.7.

A flip to Urban will place the station in direct competition with Radio-One’s “Hot 96.3” WHHH. That station currently ranks tenth with a 4.3 share.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of 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.


  1. Profile photo of radioradio

    Should have gone classic hits which is non-existent in that market

  2. Profile photo of WeNeverKnew

    Lance, hadn’t 93.9 The Beat already brought an urban battle to Indianapolis?

    As for 98.3? Some will argue that WJJK has classic hits covered. Personally, I love the format. But iHeart would have done it with something far less that the already half-hearted effort they use at Big 106.5 Dayton. Indpls is better off with something else.

    And perhaps times have changed, but years ago using the slang “the Nap” to describe Indianapolis was considered derogatory.

    • Profile photo of ksradiogeek

      No, The Beat segued to Rhythmic AC awhile ago after being a Classic Hip-Hopper for awhile. Also, “the Nap” is another nickname for Indy; “Nap Town” also fits and is more common.

      • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew

        Fine. I’ll play the format semantics game. Classic hip-hop or rhythmic AC is different than urban.

        As for “Nap.” I was born there. I grew up there. I worked for over 20 years on-air in the market. I’m well aware of nicknames, past and present. And I can assure you that as Indpls prospered out of its “Nap town” image of the 60s and 70s, “Nap” became a term that was looked down on by both city leadership and residents.

        And as I said, “perhaps times have changed.”

        • Profile photo of ksradiogeek

          Ahhhh, very nice! It’s good to get a different viewpoint in there! 🙂 If you don’t mind me asking, what stations did you work at in Indy?

          • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew

            The quicker list is who I didn’t work for…basically classical, NPR or WTTS. If you listened in the 80s and 90s, you eventually heard me on most every Indpls radio station.

        • Profile photo of Eric Jon Magnuson

          It’s not even the only station that currently uses some type of “Nap”-related branding: At the very least, WTLC-FM appears to promote as its primary URL.

          • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew

            Obviously times have changed.

    • Profile photo of Lance Venta

      The Beat, in particular Cumulus’ version of Classic Hip-Hop nationally is marketed as a mass appeal Gold format focusing on women 25-44. Mainstream Urban like Real will be going for a primarily male 18-44 audience.

      • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew

        I hear you, Lance. Painting with too wide a brush, I guess. Looking back, I thought that Hot and TLC were the ones most impacted by Beat’s roll-out. This time its more head to head. I appreciate the breakdown.

  3. Profile photo of ksradiogeek

    Indy just looks like too small of a market to make a 2-way urban battle work. Studying demographics, Indy’s African-American population is only about 28%. Some of the suburbs have a 5-10-ish% range. Does anyone see this lasting very long?

    • Profile photo of WeNeverKnew

      Urban is Earl Jones format. He made the same move in Louisville against B96.5. Rather than hurting the heritage urban, B96.5 instead jumped to number one in the market. Jones likes the format and thinks that pairing it with iHeart’s other Indpls stations will improve revenue over country. It gives Breakfast Club another national clearance. As long as everyone makes better money than before, it doesn’t matter if Real impacts ratings at TLC or Hot.

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