Richmond Radio: Alpha ch-ch-ch-anges…

Disclaimer #1: I work off-air at Alpha Media Richmond.

Disclaimer #2: This is personal opinion, not a statement from Alpha.  Official press releases will hit soon enough… 🙂

Overnight tonight, Alpha Media Richmond is going to do something about as audacious as any radio cluster has ever done — a full reset.  All four of the group’s signals are changing in some way.

If you listen today:

WLFV/93.1 – “93.1 the Wolf: Fresh Country”, playing today’s country hits and the best of the last few years.

WWLB/98.9 – “98.9 Liberty: We Play Anything”, playing the “variety hits” or “adult hits” format, pretty much anything recorded since the Beatles.

WBBT/107.3 & WARV/100.3 – “Big Oldies 107.3: Richmond’s Greatest Hits”, playing classic pop hits from the ’60s and ’70s.

When you listen tomorrow:

WWLB/93.1 (call letter change coming this week) – “93.1 Hank FM: Plays Country Legends”.  Hank FM will focus on country hits of the ’80s and ’90s (a Facebook friend called it a country take on the “Classic Rock” format, and to be honest, I can’t find a better description).  “Hank” is actually the name of the voice character you’ll hear on the station.

WLFV/98.9 & WARV/100.3 (98.9 call letter change coming this week) -“98.9 & 100.3 The Wolf: Today’s New Hit Country”.  The scheduling will be like a Top 40 station – very heavy rotation of today’s top country hits.  The simulcast switch on WARV fills in a hole in WLFV’s coverage to better compete in the market (and puts country back on 100.3 – the “RV” in WARV was for its original use as part of Radio One’s The River country simulcast years ago).

WBBT/107.3 – “107.3 BBT: Richmond’s Greatest Hits”.  While the tagline doesn’t change, the music mix will.  The focus shifts to the pop and rock hits of the ’70s and ’80s.  Fundamentally, it’s a partial merger of the Oldies and Liberty formats.

Some likely questions answered

Braden Smith, Jason Paige, and Cody Alan stay with the Wolf format and go to 98.9/100.3.  A syndicated morning show will likely be added.

Kay Thomas moves over from 98.9 to 107.3, doing middays between Jim Conlee in the morning and Tony Booth in the afternoon.

University of Richmond sports stays on 93.1 Hank FM.

VCU basketball stays on 107.3 BBT, and VCU students and fans will be glad to hear that all games will be on 107.3, including the weekend afternoon games that used to move to 100.3.

And, finally, my opinion, because it’s my blog, after all…

I think we all knew Alpha would do something in Richmond — they’ve been pretty forceful in some of the other clusters they’ve picked up recently, and they invested a good deal of money into the Main Line stations.

That said, I never would have seen a full-fledged two-pronged assault on K95 (Summit Media) as the decision.  Don’t get me wrong, it makes a ton of sense, it’s just not the move that came to mind.  K95 is… well… old.  For a rimshot signal, 93.1 the Wolf has done well — putting it on 98.9 (to cover Richmond proper) and 100.3 (to cover the rest of K95’s coverage area south of town) should bring on listeners and advertisers who never would have found 93.1.

And something had to be done with either 107.3 or 98.9 (Liberty).  The two stations were internally competitive for the same audience, and that’s a recipe for disaster.  The stations had to be combined in some way, and since 98.9 had the better city-grade signal for Richmond (107.3 skews far west due to the transmitter location in Powhatan), it was the better signal to change.   There have been a couple of attempts to move 107.3 closer to the present, but those attempts to do so simply made the conflict with 98.9 worse.  Now, they can try to get the ’80s fans in the Liberty audience over to BBT while keeping most of the BBT audience.

If you miss Liberty, and 107.3 BBT doesn’t work for you as a replacement, your best bet will probably be Summit’s 103.7 PLAY for the ’90s-and-later pop music Alpha doesn’t have any more.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the market brings in the official Jack adult-hits format, or a clone, before too long.  There’s a place for it in the Richmond market, but that place wasn’t at Alpha any more.

And as for me…?

Nobody’s said anything about me going back on the air.  I’ll probably have some more production work added to my schedule, and I’ll still run the board for roughly half of VCU’s schedule on 107.3 BBT.

The next domino should fall soon, I think.  It’ll be interesting to watch.


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