Daily Domains 11/15: An Alt Blocker In New York?

Alt Project 104.3 WAXQ-HD3With the growing rumors of Entercom bringing the Alternative format to some major markets, iHeartMedia as thrown the first salvo by blocking usage of the “Alt” brand in New York.

iHeart, which utilizes that branding in multiple markets like Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, registered Alt104.com and Alt1043.com. Now the chance of iHeart blowing up Classic Rock “Q104.3” WAXQ to Alternative is less than 1 percent, however iHeart has debuted its “Alternative Project” premium choice programming feed on WAXQ-HD3. By doing so iHeart has established first usage of the “Alt” brand in the market preventing Entercom from launching a station with that branding.

Smart blocking and potentially just one of many little battles coming in the upcoming Alternative arms race brewing between the two companies.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

22 Comments


  1. Except WAXQ had the Alt Project on HD2 before it went country and now as a WOR simulcast… But glad to see it back in NYC again.


  2. Great—this means that if Entercom flips 92.3, they’ll have to come up with something more original than “Alt.”


    • An “alt” name to “Alt,” if you will.

      I’ll be here all night, please be sure to try the veal…


      • iheart i could see bringing alt to 103.5 because of the overlap between Z and KTU. I doubt q104.3 would flip. Maybe put alt in hd 2 on 104.3? Entercom may name the station FM 92.3 or 92.3 the Edge. I am very happy that alternative will finally come to NYC!!!!!!


        • Don’t put the cart ahead of the horse. Just because it looks like a no-brainer doesn’t make it a guarantee.


        • Why throw away your strongest station that targets Hispanics (one of the more dominant minority groups in NYC)? No, Bizzle.


          • Because it overlaps with other stations KTU and Z are basically the same thing. Z targets Hispanics. So does Power.


          • Hmmmm…nope. Z largely targets Caucasians, Power largely targets African Americans. KTU and Z have been overlapping for 20 years now. What makes you think they’re wanting to get away from that in a market that has been practically raised on rhythmic music and where any form of rock on a commercial stick has significantly failed? New York hasn’t been a strong rock market for a very long time (save for that very short, minor run of RXP version 2). Just because they’re at a 3.4 in the 6+ beauty numbers now, that doesn’t mean that they’re not doing well in their target demos and bills well. KTU’s doing just fine.


          • There is no point in arguing with someone who refuses to accept basic realities about how the radio industry functions. New York can’t support alternative, plain and simple. You can try to tell people like Bizzle over and over and over again, and they’ll never get it.


          • KTU can be tweaked in so many ways based off of its past history, if they felt it was taking too much from z100 they can play more classic dance or substitute the pop product for more edm oriented product, heck even play remixes of the hits which they do a bit of now anyway. Any of those options makes much more sense then blowing up an established brand that has been fairly successful since they launched it in 1996. (At this point the original KTU is totally forgotten)


    • There is no indication they would have called it Alt.

      If they did, however, it would have been a wise move on their part. It’s a great name. It’s amusing how many people like to bag on something intelligent just because others (specifically iHeart) do it.


      • It’s not unoriginal because iHeart is using it; it’s unoriginal because Alt is just shorthand for the name of the format. It’s boring, like Country stations named “Country,” Classic Rock stations named “Classic Rock,” etc… or a station of any format just branded as “Radio.”


        • Maybe it’s unoriginal. It’s also very smart business.

          When someone unfamiliar with the station hears the name “Z100,” it tells them literally nothing. Same for “Star,” “Mix,” etc. On the other hand, when someone in Boston hears “Country 102.5,” they know what they’re getting. When someone in Tampa hears “98 Rock,” they know what they’re getting. That it took someone 25 years to come up with “Alt” is depressing as hell, frankly. It means all these radio people were thinking so much about not being unoriginal that they forgot how to be a marketers.


          • Branding a station by its format is itself bad marketing. No matter what WCLB is called, their music format would be apparent within ten minutes of listening. There are other, far more creative ways to convey the type of music you play. That’s what positioning statements are for.

            You don’t see supermarkets called “Supermarket” or gas stations called “Gas Station.”


          • Your analogy is flawed by the fact that there are no limits to the number of grocery stores or gas stations in any given area, so yes, you might have to do something different. With a limited number of stations, calling yourself what you are is just smart. (But there is a small but fast-growing franchised chain of barbershops called, quite simply, The Barbershop.)

            And while you’re right that if you tuned in WKLB, you’d immediately know what they played, if you see a billboard for “Star 102.5,” you might not tune it in because you don’t know what it is. When you can use what your product is in the name, it’s a no-brainer. In fact, it’s such a no-brainer that the Ries & Trout — the guys who literally wrote the book on marketing — made it their immutable law #5.

            It’s for less obvious formats like Hot AC that positioning statements were invented, because you have to explain the differences. If you can just say “98 Rock,” you don’t need a positioning statement.


          • The strength of “alt” as a station moniker because it is descriptive of the format is what it is also a bad choice for building as a long term brand. “Alt” as a trademark is arguably merely descriptive or, at best, a weak mark that will be difficult to obtain registration and protection for outside of common unfair competition.

            Just because it may be a “smart” programming choice – something I disagree with and contend it is an “easy” chocie – doesn’t mean it is a good business choice wherein you could build great, nationally protected equity and goodwill in a unique or suggestive moniker.


          • I read “you don’t see Supermarkets called ‘Supermarket’ gas stations called ‘Gas Station’” and can’t help but think of the infamous generic white-label “BEER” cans of the 1980s. 😉


        • Entercom and iHeart use the “Alt” name for modern rock branding. It’s a chess game that may yield nothing.

          Until anonymous registrations for the 92.3 frequency pop up, or if there’s a registration tied to Entercom, THEN we can talk. Otherwise it’s iHeart pulling a fast one and covering their bases simultaneously.


  3. Just some thoughts on branding.

    WAQY 102.1 in Springfield, Mass is Classic Rock (and has been for over 25 years) and is known as Rock 102.
    Their sister station in Springfield that has the rock format is Laser 99.3

    In Boston the hip-hop station is JAM’N 94.5 and in New London there is hip-hop Jammin’ 107.7, but many other stations across the country including Jammin’ 105.1 in NYC had used the Jammin’ brand for the Jammin’ Oldies format.

    In NYC, Hartford, and Providence – the Hip-Hop stations use the name HOT. HOT 97 in NYC, HOT 93.7 in Hartford, and HOT 106 in Providence. In Boston HOT is the branding of WBTQ 96.9 which plays a lot of Throwback Hip-Hop. In Boston it was also the branding on the failed HOT 97.7 WBOT.

    In NYC, Philly, LA, and Hartford (Now defunct) POWER is the branding of Hip-Hop Stations. However for years the Spanish Station in Springfield, MASS was POWER 1270 (and when they had the Hartford area Simulcast POWER 1270 y POWER 990). In Lawrence, Mass the Spanish Station is POWER 800 y POWER 102.9 There is a very small station in Windsor, CT that plays a mix of R&B, R&B Oldies, African American Talk, and Gospel music that is known as “The Power 97.5” (WKND 1480).

    There was an Oldies Station in New London, CT that used 102.3 The Wave. Later they were doing Classic Rock as XL 102.3.

    Now there are a bunch of Oldies Station using the branding KOOL. The was KOOL 96.7 in Stamford (Now defunct) and KOOL 101 in New London (Now defucnt), but currently co-owned (and programmed) KOOL 96.1/990 in Hartford, KOOL 104.3/1180 in Westerly, and KOOL 100.1/1270 in Springfield, Mass. There is an Oldies station by the name of KOOL in Arizona. And one in Vermont too. And in other areas of the Country too.


  4. Well they can still do a right wing libertarian talk format….Galt 92.3.

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