Fresh Listen: Revolution 93.5 Miami
It’s better now, but there was a period, several years ago, where South Florida radio was losing the one thing you could generally count on it for—sense of place. Miami radio was often deliberately low-key presentationally; the excitement came from hearing a lot of new music, a lot of local hits, and, yes, dance music. And for a minute, South Florida radio felt to me like being in any other market.
But WPOW (Power 96) is playing Latin crossovers again. WMXJ (the Beach) plays “Rapper’s Delight,” the only Classic Hits station where you can hear that song in significant rotation. WHQT (Hot 105) has been playing one song after another that I recognize as a hit, but not that I’m used to hearing on the Urban AC safe list. And, yes, there’s dance music on the radio again
WZFL (Revolution 93.5) is the successor to iHeart Radio’s “Evolution” format. Developed on the iHeart Radio app, then on the Boston frequency that is now country WBWL (the Bull), “Evolution” ended up on an iHeart translator in Miami in 2013. Two years later, Marco Mazzoli (of Italy’s CHR Radio 105, a station that deserves its own Fresh Listen) LMA’ed the translator (and WHYI’s HD-2 channel, which feeds it) and rebranded the station as “Revolution Radio.”
Revolution Radio is now heard on a full-signal Florida Keys station as well as translators in Miami and Hollywood, all on 93.5 FM and recently synchronized using GeoBroadcast Solutions’ MaxxCasting technology. I hadn’t heard Evolution much in the five years since its Boston debut. Hearing Revolution was surprising.
Dance music on FM has always posed challenges for broadcasters. Sometimes it’s compromised—too many remixes of pop hits, too many recurrents and oldies. Sometimes the format is claustrophobic: too much hardcore EDM and not enough hits. And for nearly a decade, it has had to contend with a CHR format that plays every prominent dance act and can cherrypick the dance format, making a pure dance station almost redundant.
But Revolution 93.5 was very accessible. It had CHR production values, but did not sound like CHR. It plays some ‘00s dance music and “vinyl throwbacks” from the ‘90s, but is not gold-based. And now that the superstar DJ output heard on most CHRs has become mid-to-downtempo electronica, a dance-music station like Revolution actually has more melody, more tempo, and more song-to-song variety than the CHR format. In other words, a dance format that was once too narrow now has more variety than the CHR format that currently lacks variety.
Revolution 93.5’s positioning statement is “just dance,” which doubles as a description of the music and an imperative to listeners. Another liner refers to South Florida as “the dance music capital.” The station was also hosted on the occasions when I heard it. Even if you lived in Chicago in the late ‘80s, you probably never heard a music teaser on commercial radio with the words, “coming up, brand new Marshall Jefferson.” That made Revolution 93.5 a notable experience. So did hearing an actual person delivering a music teaser on a format often done as an unhosted niche.
Here’s Revolution 93.5 in middays on April 12:
- Ace Of Base, “Beautiful Life” (followed by a solicitation for other “throwback track” requests)
- Bastian Heerhorst, “Marathon”
- Flume f/Tove Lo, “Say It”
- John Legend, “Love Me Now”
- Tiesto f/Bright Sparks, “On My Way”
- Ralph Felix & SDJM, “The Heat (I Wanna Dance With Somebody)”
- Rudimental (Robin Schulz Remix), “Lay It All On Me”
- Tchami & Marshall Jefferson, “Move Your Body (Future House)”
- CMC$, “Won’t Let You Go”
- Laidback Luke & Will Sparks f/Alicia Maddison, “Promiscuous”
- Paris Blohm, “Something About You”
- Martin Solveig f/Sam White, “(Can I Be Your) +1”
- Dillon Francis f/Will Heard, “Anywhere”
- Madison Mars, “House Party”
- C&C Music Factory, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” (staged as a “Vinyl Throwback”)
- Bourgeous & Loud Luxury, “Going Under”
- Aeroplane & Purple Disco Machine f/Aloe Blacc, “Counting On Me”