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Two format changes took place this week in the South Bend market. Midwest Family Broadcasting launched CHR “Live 99.9” WQLQ Benton Harbor MI following a weekend of stunting with television theme songs. Across town Artistic Media Partners broke off the simulcast of Classic Hits “The Stream” to debut Classic Rock “Rock 97.7” WYXX Goshen.
WQLQ’s launch was the closest to having a fully fledged station ready at birth we’ve had in years. Unlike most launches that go for the jockless 10,000 song commercial-free debut, “Live 99.9” had a clear plan of attack against Artistic’s “U93” 92.9 WNDV. Unlike most format changes that are kept secret until the second it goes live, WQLQ announced its intention a week ahead of time and had a massive local press push ahead of the debut. This gave the company time to get its advertisers on board and to shift the audience of the former Country format to its “97.5 Y-Country” WYTZ Bridgman/Benton Harbor.
Even the time of the launch was strategic. By debuting a format that is promoting itself as being heavy on new music, Live 99.9 debuted on Tuesday at 12:00pm as WNDV was in its hourly retro show. This led to the new CHR giving its heavily promoted launch to debut up against an hour of music from the 1990s and early 2000s. A local night jock and promotions for the new syndicated morning show set to debut next week were both in place right away as was a fully functioning station website (albeit without any reference to the new airstaffers) and app.
Contrast that to WYXX. The flip came out of the blue with no promotion or marketing. It took three days for the company to even acknowledge the flip took place following an inquiry. The only way you would know it happened is if you happened to stumble upon a Facebook page that has not been promoted anywhere and has a whopping 4 likes. The website for the former format still promotes the 97.7 signal. How do you expect the audience to want to find you if you’re not marketing the station?
Addendum: I was informed that WYXX has launched an extensive billboard campaign, which will help immensely with the target audience the station is attempting to reach, but my other points about lack of promotion digitally and on-air stand.
Which station is more primed for success? Both stations are filling potential niches in the market as WNDV was a very adult leaning CHR filling both the Top 40 and Hot AC holes in the market with no competition for years and WYXX became the market’s first Classic Rock station since 2012. Both signals have deficiencies in the market with 99.9 transmitting from north of the city in Michigan and 97.7 being a Class A rimshot whose 60 dBU contour cuts through South Bend itself. But having a completely strategy in place will give Live 99.9 the chance to make a quick impact, while WYXX just sits there hoping people find it.