Merlin Media launches FM News 101.9 in NYC


Half a month after launching Chicago’s only 24-hour all-news FM station with FM News 101.1 in Chicago, Merlin Media officially launched (8/15) its FM News 101.9 in New York (WEMP-FM), after the format’s soft launch on 8/12 and weeks of stunting with Hot AC, news reports, and features. Merlin media previously blew up Alternative WRXP-FM after LMA’ing it with Emmis.

It’s not all hard news, all the time: The station bills itself as with delivering credible and relatable news, along with easy-to-understand traffic reports and accurate weather. Complementing that core content will be information on subjects such as health, family, career, money, entertainment, and more. It’s also interactive across platforms with personalized online and mobile content that promotes audience participation via social media, digital video, and other outlets.

Advertiser opportunities include sponsorships, billboards, endorsements, Internet, mobile, tablets, and live reads.

The stations roster of talent includes:

•Alice Stockton-Rossini will be morning drive co-anchor. She has spent the last 24 years at 1010 WINS where she reported on special features and series on everything from China’s emerging economic presence to what working moms need to succeed at home and in the office. Stockton-Rossini’s popularity was cemented as a top anchor known for breaking news stories.

•Dave Packer will be morning drive co-host. Packer was most recently at WCBS-FM and is a seasoned morning radio personality with major market, multi-format experience creating intensive, entertaining, and interactive radio. New York listeners will be familiar with Packer for his time as the original morning host and news anchor at Fresh 102.7.

•Hilarie Barsky will be the afternoon drive co-anchor, bringing over 20 years of experience as a producer, talk-show host and on-air anchor on notable stations such as ABC News Radio, WABC-AM New York, Good Morning America New York, CFUN 1410AM and the Fox News Channel. Barsky was also the afternoon drive co-host on the most successful FM talk station, New Jersey 101.5.

•Steve Langford, formerly the lead reporter for Howard Stern’s Howard 100 News, is an industry veteran and has been reporting and producing for over three decades on both radio and television across the U.S., as well as in Canada and France. Langford has also reported for A Current Affair, The Insider, Court TV, Celebrity Justice, and MSNBC.

•Daniela Bilotta recently reported as an anchor at ABC News Radio where she had spent the last 6 years. She’s known for breaking in-depth news reports on Hurricane Katrina, President Obama’s election, and Michael Jackson’s death. A Toronto native, Bilotta was an anchor for Canada’s number one news station, 680 News, and its award-winning morning show from 2000 to 2004.

•Victoria Keelan has been the morning star talent on Sirius XM’s Cosmo Radio, bringing audiences the latest and hottest trends in the world of fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and food on “Cosmo Life with Victoria.” Keelan is a principal source for entertainment and beauty-related news, and has interviewed numerous A-list Hollywood celebrities, covered various red carpet events and has kept her audience up-to-date with the foremost reviews in the space.

•Brett Larson is an Emmy Award winning reporter and one of the most familiar faces in technology and environmental coverage in the nation having anchored on 1010 WINS.

•Catherine Smith has spent nearly 13 years on 1010 WINS and has also been heard nationally in newscasts on the NBC, ABC and RKO radio networks. She has a craft for conducting five-minute network newscasts as a result of her long-standing experience in the industry and was recently honored with a NY Edward R. Murrow award for her talents.

“As music moves to the mobile device, now is the time to put spoken word on the band most people use. Our content will target the people who already use FM radio, but will focus on interesting, real-time information,” said Randy Michaels, Merlin Media CEO. “Our one-to-many broadcasts will be supplemented by personalized, one-to-one interactive content so that instead of commercials that interrupt a tired music playlist, we offer our marketing partners multiplatform solutions that build brands and move product in the best possible environment.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The station is geared to working families and skews toward women with the emphasis on lifestyle, family health and entertainment segments. While the style, delivery and content will be more modern than their all-news brethren in The Big Apple, it is still a saturated market for news. FM News 101.9 will be competing with entrenched outlets such as WCBS-AM (tied for #6 P12+ in July), WINS-AM (#13) and WBBR-AM (tied for #25). These 50-kW AMs also have less issues with in-office and in-car interference than, say, a 5-KW AM. But FM News 101.9 will still have better sound quality and the team assembled is top-notch. It should be interesting to see if it can reach the heights of All-News WTOP-FM in DC.