Fresh Listen: Revolution 93.5 Miami

Revolution 93.5 The Bull 104.7 Fort Lauderdale MiamiIt’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

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  1. VARTV says

    Sean… A good read. “(T)oo many remixes of pop hits” would be my #1 complaint…

  2. borderblaster says

    I samples WMXJ today. I like it, and I’m not easily impressed. Yes, Rapper’s Delight at 5:05pm.

  3. saladressing says

    Excellent writeup on this terrestrial dance station in South Florida. The other two commercial terrestrial HD1 dance stations I am aware of are 96.7 Pride Radio/Minneapolis and 97.5 Pride Radio/Austin which appear to share the same playlist.

    “the CHR format that currently lacks variety. ”

    It certainly does. I appreciate and respect that some may enjoy the acoustic and passionless light indie folk sound, but it’s just that I don’t understand why or how.

  4. Jack Bayes says

    Dance is a specialty show, not a format.

  5. Sean Ross says

    After this column was published, I heard from Revolution Radio CEO/manager Marco Mazzoli. Mazzoli is also the host of the long-running afternoon show on Radio 105 (“some say I’m the Italian Howard Stern, but without his multi-millionaire contract!”). He’s currently doing that show from Miami every morning, making him the guy who somehow has to wake up early to do afternoons.

    Mazzoli says that his goal has been to make the former Evolution more than a heavy rotation jukebox. He has been working to instill “a wide selection of different genres” with more dayparting–more accessible during the day and “more EDM credible” at night with superstar DJs after 8 p.m. Revolution does play hits now, he says, “but with much more variety.”

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