On this date fifteen years ago Evergreen Media dropped Country on 103.5 WYNY New York and made history relaunching the station as Dance CHR WKTU.
Although the change came as the New York market was going through its greatest upheaval, the impact was swift. WKTU quickly jumped from 21st in the market with 1.9 share of the audience in its final book as Country to the top of the pack with a 6.7 share in its first full ratings period in the new format as well as every key demographic. It would settle into a solid top 5 position for much of its early history until it hit a rough patch in the mid-2000’s due to CBS’ Classic Dance “Mix 102.7” WNEW. In the PPM era, WKTU has rebounded back as a Rhythmic Hot AC that has a unique New York sound in an era of many homogenized stations.
While it never was the pure Dance station that many of the hardcore aficionados were looking for, WKTU has done more for the genre than it is given credit for. It gave a number of artists output on a mass appeal station that otherwise would not have occurred. While Tony Santiago of the New York Dance Music Coalition quickly pegged the station as “a format with lots of potential” in the days after its debut, he now looks back recognizing the impact of the station “KTU has made a mark, but then with the differing dance music audiences New York has, it can cater to one but not to all”. He also adds that “for a station to last as long as KTU did is an incredible feat even though it’s no longer the station that it was when it first debuted. However for the audience that it serves, KTU does well. And with dance music making a comeback, hopefully the station can be what it was during its debut”
It’s not every day that a station is launched and helps change the musical paradigm. When KTU launched CHR in general was very Modern Rock heavy. By the end of 1996, the hits format was much more balanced as pure pop music was on the rebound. One of the first songs to explode on KTU was a little known remix of a Spanish song called “Macarena”. Within months the song was a dance craze and biggest hit in the world mostly due to the early exposure on WKTU.
With the help of our sister sites Airchexx.com, Airchecked.com, and FormatChange.com along with our friends at AircheckDownloads.com we have compiled this collection of audio saluting the history of WYNY and WKTU.
7/1/1987 – FormatChange.com: 97.1 WYNY Flips From AC To Country
9/22/1988 – FormatChange.com: 97.1 WYNY and 103.5 WQHT Swap Frequencies
2/4/1996 – Airchexx.com: The End of 103.5 WYNY
2/10/1996 – FormatChange.com: The birth of 103.5 KTU
1996 – Airchecked: WKTU Jingle Package
12/1/1996 – Airchecked: Al Bandiero
6/25/2002 – Airchexx.com: Vic Latino & the Top 8 at 8
1/20/2003 – AircheckDownloads.com: Vic Latino
8/21/2010 – AircheckDownloads.com: Wendy Wild
9/26/2010 – AircheckDownloads.com: Cubby & Cindy