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Cumulus ditches old-school hip-hop format at 93.9 FM

December 27, 2017

Indianapolis radio station WRWM-FM 93.9 once again is changing its programming format, while also switching call letters to WYRG-FM. 

Cumulus Media Inc. last month ditched the station's old-school hip-hop format after a three-year run on the 93.9 FM frequency and temporarily switched to a seasonal all-Christmas music playlist.

That ended Tuesday, when Cumulus changed the station to a top 40 format, which is the same format the station used before it changed to old-school hip-hop. 

In late 2014, WRWM made news by becoming the first station in the market to exclusively play hip-hop music from the 1980s and 1990s.

Branded as "The Beat," WRWM zoomed up 14 spots to No. 1 in early 2015 with local listenership jumping from a 1.7 to a 7.7 rating, according to New York-based Nielsen Audio. Unfortunately for Cumulus, the station couldn’t maintain its lofty status, and by the middle of last year, was consistently scoring ratings under 3.0.

Now, WRWM has re-branded to "Energy 93.9." It’s new web site is Energy939Indy.com. 

Despite some online complaints about the death of The Beat, Cumulus local market manager Tom Stemlar said he is optimistic about the change. 

Stemlar has had something of a golden touch leading Cumulus’ Indianapolis radio stations. Cumulus classic rock WJJK-FM 104.5 and country WFMS-FM 95.5 have been at or near the top of the local market in ratings throughout 2017. On multiple occasions, WJJK and WFMS have occupied the top two spots in the markets with listeners 6 years old and older.

“[Programming Director] Jay Michaels has programmed our Classic Hits station WJJK-FM to No. 1,” Stemlar said in a written statement. “I am very anxious to see what he does with even a greater mass appeal station like Energy-WRYG.”

“Energy 93.9 is the perfect complement to our dominant Classic Hits Station, WJJK, and to our country powerhouse, WFMS,” Michaels said in written comments. “With our focus on playing only the best hit music–and having engaging and relatable personalities on 24/7—we’re ready to pump some new Energy into Indy in 2018. Not to mention, one thing I’ve heard over and over from our listeners the last three years is “Where’s 'The Bert Show'?” Well, they’re back.”

'The Bert Show,' a nationally syndicated show featuring Bert Weiss, will air on the local station from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by Jay Michaels from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Rachel Ryan from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Justin Luvv from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Zach Sang from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Station clusters often program their stations in a way that makes advertising sales possible across all of their stations.

“Cumulus has two highly-rated stations with lots of advertisers. Radio station managers and sales directors are looking to sell packages across stations, not just ads for a single station,” said Promotus Advertising President Bruce Byrant. “What [Cumulus officials] likely found is that the advertisers on WJJK and WFMS are more likely to advertise in combination with a top 40 station than they are with an old-school hip-hop station or other formats. When The Beat was at the top or toward the top of the market, it made sense—even as a standalone—from a sales standpoint. When it started to slip, it didn’t.”

 

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