Is Entercom About To Go All-In On Alternative?

Entercom Alternative Amp 103.7 KVIL Dallas 92.3 WBMP New YorkAs the days tick down closer to the closing of the Entercom/CBS Radio merger, how the integration of the two company’s cultures and strategies will be the biggest story to watch.

We know the new Entercom will be placing an emphasis on Sports Talk and play-by-play with Mike Dee joining the company earlier this year as President of Entercom Sports. Dee, who previously served as President/CEO on MLB’s San Diego Padres and NFL’s Miami Dolphins, will work to tighten Entercom’s relationship with pro and college teams and creating new revenue and marketing platforms and partnerships.

With Sports being one of the few formats targeting a broad male audience, Entercom will have an advertising platform with Sports stations in over 25 markets plus the national CBS Sports Radio network. That platform will include nine of the top ten markets and eleven of the top twenty (with three other markets holding at least one major play-by-play package).

In recent years we’ve seen Cumulus go all-in on Country with “Nash” and “Nash Icon“; iHeart has CHR in 17 of the top 20 markets, its own iHeartCountry sub-brand, and Urbans in most major markets. CBS Radio held a virtual monopoly on News with stations (and two of them in New York) in eight of the top twelve markets. The only other format that Entercom will have a large cluster of markets in a single format is Hot AC with 24 stations in the combined Entercom holdings.

But another format with a demographic that has become the hardest for radio to reach could be within Entercom’s grasp to own. The combined company will own twelve Alternative Rock stations upon closing of the merger with stations in the following markets:

That gives a solid group to sell to national ad buyers attempting to reach younger male audiences. And Entercom may just not be done there. Rumors have been flying over the past few days that one of the company’s first moves will be to flip CHR “Amp 103.7” KVIL Dallas to Alternative. We reported last month on an anonymous registration of, which is being used as a decoy to point to iHeart’s “Alt 104.9” KLLT St. Louis and have been told that the domain is likely for use for Entercom post-merger closing. Dallas has been without the format since last November’s flip of 102.1 KDGE to AC.

That would now give Entercom three Alternative stations in top five markets. Add AAA 93.1 WXRT Chicago (as well as 105.5 WMMM Madison) for sales purposes and you now have four and leaving one gaping hole for the format and the company. CHR “92.3 Amp” WBMP New York is currently struggling with a 2.0 share in a market where no non Hip-Hop music station is targeting 18-49 year old men. Adding New York and Dallas enables record label support behind the format and gives Entercom the ability to package the top five markets for national sales and marketing partnerships along with the other eleven stations mentioned.

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  1. Eric Jon Magnuson says

    Perhaps this is a significant reason (but admittedly still not the primary one) why Entercom is picking up iHeart’s Richmond cluster (including WRXL).

  2. Jamie Turner says

    I like the name “Amp” for an Alternative better. Just me?

  3. Joseph_Gallant says

    Could Entercom decide to flip KVIL-103.7 Dallas/Fort Worth to alternative rock, but delay such a flip ’til after the Holidays and stunt with Christmas music??

    Here in Boston, I also wonder if Entercom might either tweak WAAF-107.3 Worcester/Boston to alternative, or flip WODS-103.3 in that market from top-40 to alternative rock while making ‘AAF even more active rock.

    1. ksradiogeek says

      …or just flip it now instead…

    2. Charles Everett says

      As usual, Joseph writes before he thinks.
      First: 98.7 KLUV owns the Christmas franchise in Dallas and Entercom will be getting that signal from CBS.
      Second: Boston already has Alt 92.9, which is owned by Beasley Media. Entercom is not going to act stupid.
      Third: Using “here in (insert place)” in a sentence makes you a target for a stalker.

  4. Bizzle says

    I think this means 92.3 AMP Radio in NYC will finally become Alternative hopefully as 92.3 K Rock or as FM 92.3 or as Alt 92.3

    1. ksradiogeek says

      While it has heritage, the K-Rock name has been tarnished. It’s best that if they flip, they start over from scratch and come up with a new name.

      1. Nathan Obral says

        K-Rock and WNEW had their names dragged in the mud. A totally new identity can help a lot.

        1. Theater of My Mind says

          K-Rock has continued all this time on HD2 and online with an excellent playlist combining alternative and active rock in a way that actually sounds great. In fact it’s probably the best kept secret on the NY radio dial and I’m going to miss it when it moves to the regular FM band with more commercials.

          I just hope the playlist stays the way it is now and doesn’t degrade to the burned out 90s grunge mix that ruined alt-rock radio in more recent years.

          1. saladressing says

            Totally agree, Theater. KROCK HD2 is in my opinion one of the best commercial alternative streams around.

            I also wonder if Entercom may be eyeing 102.9 or 104.1 in Minneapolis for a flip to alternative. Although there are already two alt. stations in that market, the company does prefer the format and it would be on a full signal on either of those two frequencies.

  5. Bizzle says

    I want it to be strictly alternative like Radio 104.5 in Philly or Alt 92.9 in Boston or 104.3 the Shark in Miami. They tried that alternative and mainstream rock mix it failed several times. 101.9 RXP was that horrific mix of classic rock, aaa, alternative, and rock. We need a station kind of like new rock 101.9 but localized and more newer rock and also we need local bands. This is unrelated but no major FM New York City radio station does anything for local artists musicians rappers and bands as far as I know. That needs to happen for pop, hip hop, R&B, Spanish CHR, Spanish a/c, spanish rock, a/c, urban contemporary, Rock & alternative.

    1. Nathan Obral says

      A station like that will not work in a market like New York. Just because New Rock 101.9 did modestly well in the meaningless 12+ topline (as a Chicago-programmed placeholder) doesn’t mean it would have had much revenue; rather, it would have been a poor biller like 104.5 in Philly is.

      1. Aaron says

        Radio 104.5’s poor billing has always been bizarre to me. This is a station that is usually top 5 in the money demo. According to All Access, they’re currently tied at #4 with More-FM, a station that basically prints money, in 25-54. How that doesn’t translate into sales is a mystery.

        NYC has very different demographics, but I can’t see it doing worse than Amp, which is in a rough spot- a second-tier CHR at a time when CHR is in a downswing. NYC doesn’t really have any other format holes at the moment either.

  6. Nathan Obral says

    Entercom will launch a modern rock format on a primary channel in New York if they can conclude that the format can sustain itself in the ratings AND generate more revenue than AMP currently can.

    Even as AMP has the absolutely thankless task of going up against iHeart’s wall of WHTZ/WKTU/WLTW/WWPR… I don’t think it’s as much a disaster as others think it is. It does deserve an infusion of resources and investment, should Entercom elect to keep AMP on.

  7. Eric Jon Magnuson says

    This could be coming from the very top: The story in today’s Tom Taylor Now (at about Lisa Worden’s move to iHeart mentions that Alt is “reputed to be a favorite of [Entercom] CEO David Field”.

  8. Darryl says

    With regard to the sports initiative the Mets are up for grabs as their WOR deal expired this year. WCBS AM carried the Yankees for a number of years. They could go after the Mets especially with the financial hardship IHeart and Cumulus are under.

    1. Lance Venta says

      The Mets have one more year remaining on their contract with iHeart. They signed a five year deal prior to the 2014 season.

      1. Darryl says

        Whoops! As a Mets fan I am used to waiting until next year.

        1. Lance Venta says

          Look at the colors in our logo. They were chosen for a reason.

    2. Nathan Obral says

      iHeart is very much able to renew play-by-play contracts. Their Cleveland cluster recently locked up both the Indians and Cavaliers PBP rights for WTAM/WMMS in deals that last until 2022.

      If Entercom or Cumulus don’t want to outbid iHeart, WOR is the prohibitive favorite to remain the Mets flagship. And remember, the Yankees contract for WFAN ain’t cheap.

  9. donobrian says

    For a couple months after the name change from now to amp it sounded like they were really figuring it out. Stupid moves, stigmas attached that do nothing but alienate listeners who don’t live that lifestyle(jersey shore how u doin’). Like ‘showboy is gonna have a chance in NYC against Elvis, just play music in the mornings and attack at the other dayparts.
    It sure would be nice if WPLJ would take a page from their 84-87 success and do a real adult chr for 2017. It sure is nice having ALT in NYC for now but in 2017 it is a force not filling a hole as much as we would like to think otherwise.
    BTW if I sell crap I want stupid men I can manipulate so yeah I’m going sports not alternative where they have brains and I have to actually do my job well to move product.

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