Clear Channel/Richmond launches The Planet 96.1


Clear ChannelClassic Rock The Planet 96.1-FM (W295BF) launched 4/17 by Clear Channel Richmond, is aiming at full-market cross-town rival, Cox Media Group’s Rock 96.5 WKLR-FM.

In a previous life, Rock 96.5 was branded as The Planet. In September it underwent a makeover by Cox, which gave it a new look and added ’90s hits to its rock roster. It also recently hired for its evening lineup on-air jock Mason, who’d been open about his firing from Clear Channel’s other rock station, XL102, noted Style Weekly. The syndicated Bob & Tom Show gets mornings.

There was a bit of back and forth from the competitors:

“I’m not really sure what they’re doing,” Clear Channel Operations Manager Dave Symonds says of the changes at Rock 96.5. As for determining the format for The Planet 96.1, he says, “We talked to a lot of unhappy classic rock fans. The goal of the radio station is to be pure classic rock — no impurities,” Symonds says. “It’s the kind of music not represented here in Richmond.”

“They just got a new low-power FM and they had to put something on it,” a Cox Media Group executive emails Style, balking at Symonds’ assessment of the market void.

WKLR is a 50,000-watt station compared with 96.1 The Planet’s 145 watts, albeit atop a 700’ stick. W295BF used to be a translator for Clear Channel’s Urban WBTJ-FM. The Planet ( is also airing on CC’s sister 200,000-watt WRVQ-HD2.

“It’s a shame that this is the best they could come up with,” Cox Media/Richmond vice president and market manager Bob Willoughby told Style Weekly. “They could have done something really interesting like a Classical or Jazz station that could have really benefited the community instead of duplicating an existing format. That’s not a promising sign. The only real similarity between the stations is they stole the old name. Unfortunately, this new station is very similar to a lot of cookie-cutter Clear Channel stations across the country. Programmed somewhere else and with nobody from Richmond on the station. Richmonders are smarter than that. They want local personalities and stations that actually care about community.”

So will locally based talent ever be on-air at The Planet? “That’s the goal,” Symonds says. “We’ve got people in this building that know this format that are on the air already.”

See the Style weekly article here.

RBR-TVBR observation: Richmond is loaded with Rock, Classic Rock and Indie Rock stations receivable in the market. Aside from the ones listed above, there is a relay of Indie Rock WNRN-FM Charlottesville on 103.1; Richmond Indie Radio (WRIR-LP) on 97.3, Classic Rock rimshotter WWUZ-FM 96.9 Bowling Green, VA; U of Richmond’s WDCE-FM 90.1 and 100,000-watt Classic Rock WAFX-FM 106.9 booming in from the Norfolk-VA Beach market.

One problem for The Planet not mentioned in the article will be interference from full-market Alternative/Indie WROX-FM on co-channel 96.1 in the Norfolk market.


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