Holding On To The Earth: First Listen, 94/7 The Globe

This article originally appeared February 3, 2007 on Edison Research’s Infinite Dial blog.

Okay, many people believe that “An Inconvenient Truth” helped make Al Gore a rock star again. But is the environment now a rock radio niche? That’s what longtime Classic Rock WARW Washington, D.C., is hoping for with its segue yesterday to 94.7, the Globe. 

Musically, the new WARW is similar to WZGC Atlanta, which made a similar transition from Classic Rock to a slightly more contemporary-leaning Triple-A several years ago, but branded itself as the Jack/Bob-like “Dave FM.” But Washington has had two Hot AC/Classic Hits hybrids, including the just-launched WGMS (George 104), so WARW is instead calling itself “The Globe” and doing something that few rock stations have done in the past 30 years–promoting itself as “eco-friendly” in addition to the more traditional Triple-A “World Class Rock” positioning.

As that might suggest, there’s a lot going on at once. Various promos on the first day included market veteran Cerphe talking about how “radio has changed over the years, and honestly, not always for the better” and promising to “be part of the solution, rather than the problem,” there were also swipes at WGMS (promises not to play “Madonna and Boy George”–the latter is probably not a core artist anyway); there were liners evoking the spirit of progressive WHFS in the mid-’80s, and certainly if you liked that station, you will hear some of its greatest hits–Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up,” the Smithereens’ “A Girl Like You,” and the Jam’s “A Town Called Malice” all played in the first few hours.

Okay, so now you have to ask yourself how many people were listening to WHFS in the mid-’80s. One of the problems with both the Gold-based Hip-Hop format tried at KDAY Los Angeles a few years ago and the library-based Modern Gold stations of recent years is that they’re invoking an adolescence that not that many people lived through. And, as one friend pointed out, “What if you like Triple-A but don’t buy into the whole environmental thing?”

That said, this is a different and ambitious radio station–and the second different radio station that CBS has launched since the beginning of the year. And like KCBS (Jack FM) Los Angeles, it has the advantage of being friendly to the cume it’s starting out with, which didn’t need three stations doing some form of Classic Rock. (Editor’s note: a decade later, D.C. would have one Classic Rock station and no Classic Hits station.)

Here’s an hour or so of WARW from 3:30 p.m. on February 2, 2007:

  • Coldplay, “The Scientist”
  • Talking Heads, “And She Was”
  • Neil Young, “Southern Man”
  • The Fray, “How To Save A Life”
  • Mighty Lemon Drops, “Inside Out” (may have been Web only)
  • Pete Townshend, “Rough Boys”
  • ?Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Suck My Kiss”
  • Bob Marley, “One Love/People Get Ready”
  • INXS, “New Sensation”
  • Rod Stewart, “Every Picture Tells A Story”
  • Snow Patrol, “Chasing Cars”?
  • R.E.M., “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”

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Sean Ross is author of the Ross on Radio newsletter and VP of music and programming of Edison Research.

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