Update 1/2: WPLZ debuted its new identity as “Cat Country 95.3” at midnight.
Original Report 12/17: Brewer Media News/Talk 95.3 WPLZ Chattanooga has dismissed its on-air and programming staff and will flip to a new format in January.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Program Director Gary Poole, News Director Louis Lee, and talk hosts Robert Nash and David Karnes are among the employees being dismissed with the format change. Owner Jim Brewer II blamed the changes on “Being a small, single market cluster it’s exceedingly difficult to compete against national broadcasting companies who have so much syndicated programming and infrastructure.”
In the Summer book, WPLZ garnered a mere 1.2 share with a local heavy daytime lineup. Outside of the syndicated Glenn Beck from 9am to noon, WPLZ featured News blocks from 6am to 9pm and again from 12pm to 1pm and local talk from 1 to 7pm. It’s primary competitors in the format, Cumulus’ “NewsRadio 1150” WGOW and “TalkRadio 102.3” WGOW-FM do not subscribe to Arbitron and therefore do not appear in the publicly available ratings.
What’s next for 95.3? Brewer registered 953KicksCountry.com. That move would place the station up against Clear Channel’s market dominating “US 101” 100.7 WUSY. Update 12/17: Add CatCountry953.com as a second registered by Brewer.
WPLZ debuted its News/Talk format in May 2009 as “Pulse News 95.3“. It had previously been Variety Hits “95.3 Jack-FM” WHJK.