RBR-TVBR asked Merlin Media CEO Randy Michaels about this week’s launch of their FM News 101.9 in New York (WEMP-FM), after LMA’ing it with Emmis. 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. We asked Michaels how they will be able to compete with entrenched outlets in the market 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.
Said Michaels: “We aren’t really competing with WBBR, WCBS or WINS. Those AM stations do a great job targeting the retirement set. FM News targets younger people who already use FM. When music went from AM to FM, many AM stations found success with spoken word. As music moves from FM to the personal media player, the smartphone, and the tablet, it’s time to convert FM signals to spoken word. FM news provides current information targeting working families on the band they listen to.”
RBR-TVBR observation: This is very similar to what Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters and Merlin Media COO Walter Sabo have been saying for years. Spanish music-formatted stations are still holding pretty strong, but music stations in America are dwindling, market-by-market. A prime example this week was the announced demise of heritage rocker WHTQ-FM in Orlando for a news-talk simulcast of WDBO.