Hot 96.9 Boston Debuts

Hot 96.9 Rhythm Of Boston Pebbles Melissa Cadillac Jack WTKK Greater Media Jam'n 94.5 Kiss 108Update 1/8: WTKK debuted its new permanent identity at 11:00 this morning as morning host Pebbles introduced “Hot 96.9” billed as “The Rhythm Of Boston”.

The Rhythmic Hot AC is promoting itself as the home of current rhythm and dance along with 80s and 90s “throwbacks”. Usher, Rhianna, Beyonce, and Michael Jackson are prominently featured on the station’s website. The station is launching with 13,000 songs commercial-free. Listen to the debut of Hot 96.9 at FormatChange.com.

The new format positions 96.9 into a crowded pop mix with Clear Channel’s Rhythmic CHR “Jam’n 94.5” WJMN, CHR “Kiss 108” WXKS, and Dance “Evolution 101.7” WEDX as well as CBS’ CHR “Amp Radio 103.3” WODS and Adult CHR “Mix 104.1” WBMX. Of those WJMN and WBMX appear to be the primary targets as the station aims for the adult listeners of Jam’n that have outgrown the station and only had Mix as an alternative.

The first hour of Hot 96.9 featured:
Jay Z – Run This Town
Ne-Yo – Let Me Love You
Destiny’s Child – Jumpin’ Jumpin’
Adele – Set Fire To The Rain
50 Cent – In The Club
Michael Jackson – Wanna Be Starting Something
Rhianna – Rude Boy
Justin Bieber – As Long As You Love Me
Usher – Yeah
Black Eyed Peas – I Got A Feeling
Mary J. Blige – Family Affair
Rhianna – Diamonds
Beyonce – Irreplaceable
Jagged Edge – Let’s Get Married

The Press Release introducting the station follows:
After nearly a week of on air stunting, the wait is finally over! Greater Media has officially unveiled the All New Hot 96.9, the Rhythm of Boston.

Hot 96.9, the Rhythm of Boston, will feature rhythm and dance music from today, along with throwbacks from the 80’s and 90’s, including artists like Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Usher, and Rihanna.
Hot 96.9 Morning Show Personality Pebbles officially kicked off the new format in the studio this morning at 11am by playing the first of 13,000 songs in a row.

“Throughout my years in radio, I’ve witnessed firsthand the rich history Boston has of embracing rhythmic hit music,” said Greater Media Boston Director of Programming Cadillac Jack McCartney. “We have identified a huge gap in the market to super-serve Adults who have graduated from the many teen stations currently in the city, but who still want a radio station that gives them some of the great throwbacks they grew up with, along with the best rhythmic hits of today, and without all the interruptions. Hot 96.9 is that station!”
“The entire Greater Media Boston team has had a lot of fun over the past week with our format stunts, and hope that others have enjoyed it,” said Greater Media Boston Market Manager Rob Williams. “We are excited to introduce Hot 96.9 to Boston.”

“We’re thrilled to give our audience and customers a new option to turn to in the competitive Boston Market,” said Greater Media Vice President of Program Development Buzz Knight. “By adding Hot 96.9 to our already successful portfolio of brands, 2013 promises to be a great year for Greater Media Boston.”

Update 1/7: As of this morning, WTKK continues with the “Bone” micro-format however signs of a possible permanent brand are beginning to show. Unlike any of the other domains previously registered by Greater Media, Hot969Boston.com is on a staging server awaiting activation while social media accounts for said brand are parked. Something we’ll be keeping an eye on.

Update 1/6: Midnight brought the next WTKK micro-format as the station segued to Classic Rock “96.9 The Bone: Classic Rock That Really Rocks“.

Update 1/4: Today’s micro-format begins debuted at 12pm with Variety Hits “96.9 Mike FM” playing off the former identity of 93.7 WMKK (Now Sports WEEI-FM).

Mike began with a Boston centric playlist of The Standells “Dirty Water”, Dropkick Murphys “Shipping Off To Boston”, before going into usual Variety Hits standbyes like Robert Palmer “Addicted To Love” and Tone Loc “Funky Cold Medina”.

Meanwhile another staffing announcement comes with the hiring of “Cadillac” Jack McCartney as Director of Programming of Greater Media Boston.

McCartney, who previously spent 20 years in Boston overseeing Clear Channel’s WJMN and WXKS-FM had most recently been VP/Programming for Clear Channel’s five New York City stations. He will now oversee 96.9, Alternative “Radio 92.9” WBOS, Country 102.5 WKLB, Classic Hits 105.7 WROR, and AC “Magic 106.7” WMJX.

Update 1/3: The Power stunt on 96.9 ended 24 hours after beginning, giving way to a second micro-format of Dance “Nova 96.9“.

Greater Media has since announced that Pebbles, who has spent the past 17 years at Clear Channel Rhythmic CHR “Jam’n 94.5” WJMN until departing last month, will be joining 96.9 to host mornings. She was most recently morning co-host at WJMN.

After stunting with Urban and Dance it is likely those formats are out as the permanent format. What does that leave? Rhythmic AC has been a likely destination since the first domains were registered last month. An additional domain was registered on December 28, as the group added Hot969Boston.com to their collection.

Update 1/2: Following Jim Braude and Marjory Eagan’s final show this morning, WTKK segued to Urban “Power 96.9“.

If this is permanent, the new format places the station directly in the crosshairs of Clear Channel’s “Jam’n 94.5” WJMN and joins a crowded battle for younger audiences with CBS “Amp Radio 103.3” WODS and Clear Channel’s “Kiss 108” WXKS-FM and “Evolution 101.7” WHBA.

Why are we unsure if its permanent? The Greater Media press release itself doesn’t confirm Power as being permanent:

Get ready for an exciting week of music on the air at 96.9 FM in Boston. Live and local, the new 96.9 promises to bring a fun new sound to the Boston community!

Beginning today, 96.9 FM returns to music with Power 96.9, Boston’s Hip Hop and R&B station with more surprises to take place during the upcoming week.

Stay tuned!

Listen to the end of “NewsTalk 96.9 on FormatChange.com

The first half-hour of Power 96.9 consisted of:
Rhianna – Diamonds
Rick Ross – Dead Pineapples
Miguel – Do You
Frank Ocean – Thinking About You
Kanye West – Monster
Tamar Braxton – Love And War
Mya – The Best Of Me
Chris Brown – Don’t Judge Me

Update 12/28: The Boston Globe reports that the flip of WTKK to a music format will take place at some point following Jim Bruade & Margery Eagen’s morning show on Wednesday, January 2. The Globe states that Jim & Margery are likely to move to another station in Boston.

Indications in the market right now seem to be pointing towards a Rhythmic AC or Rhythmic Oldies format to fill the other half of the Classic Hits niche with Classic Rock leaning sister 105.7 WROR. The Boston Herald speculates that former WXKS/WJMN PD “Cadillac” Jack McCartney, who recently resigned as OM of Clear Channel’s New York stations could be in line to program WTKK.

Update 12/24: Another WTKK host has confirmed his exit, as afternoon host Michael Graham has departed WTKK.

In the aftermath of 101.7 WHBA’s flip to EDMEvolution 101.7“, an additional three domains have been added to all the existing ones. The newly registered domains are 969ThePulse.com, BostonsPulse969.com, and ThePulse969.com.

Update 12/17: WTKK late morning host Doug Meehan has announced that today will be his final show on the station, as he will be taking a new television position to be announced. Meehan has been with WTKK since May 2011. He previously worked at WFXT-TV as a traffic reporter.

Meanwhile the domains keep on coming. On Thursday, eleven more were registered. The new batch include: 969BFM.com, 969MikeFM.com, 969TheBone.com, 969TheGroove.com, B969.net, B969Boston.com, B969FM.com, BostonB969.com, BostonB969FM.com, Groove969.com, and SportsRadio969.com.

Update 12/12: Following our original report on Monday, Greater Media has registered eighteen additional domains for 96.9. This is a usual occurrence we see whenever we first break word of a pending format change, as the company attempts to create decoys to prevent competitors from figuring out their future plans. The domains registered are: 969JackFM.net, 969NewsForBoston.com, 969TheBunker.com, 969TheTalkOfBoston.com, AllNews969.com, AllNewsBoston969.com, BostonNews969.com, BostonsOwn969.com, ClassicRockThatReallyRocks969.com, Goodtimes969.com, JackFM969.net, Mike969.com, NewsBoston969.com, Now969.com, Oldies969.com, Rockstar969.com, Sports969.com, and TodaysRock969.com.

What can be gleamed from these registrations along with the lack of a denial by Greater Media to the Boston Herald that a change will be taking place is that a change is very much going to happen at WTKK.

And how often is it that an unannounced radio format change is a top story on a major market television station?

Original Report 12/10: Domain registrations are pointing to yet another major format change in Boston.

969BostonsBeat.com, 969TheBeat.com, BostonsBeat969.com, Power969.com, Variety969.com, and TheStreets969.com were all anonymously registered last week. The domains were all registered using the same registrar normally used by Greater Media, owner of 96.9 WTKK Boston.

WTKK rebranded as “NewsTalk 96.9” in September following changes at two of its direct competitors in the market. Since that time WTKK’s growth has been stagnant, while Entercom Talk 680 WRKO and CBS News 1030 WBZ have both shown growth in election season and the demise of Clear Channel’s “Talk 1200” WXKS.

Reading the tea leaves behind the domains, it appears some form of Rhythmic format targeted against Clear Channel’s “Jam’n 94.5” WJMN is forthcoming. Such a move would bring Greater Media into the younger demo battle being waged between Clear Channel via WJMN and CHR “Kiss 108” WXKS-FM and CBS’ “AmpRadio 103.3” WODS.

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