Just in time for Music Week here at KP, another Washington-area radio station jumps formats. Paul Farhi reports in the Washington Post that WBIG has abandoned “oldies” for the somewhat younger demographics of classic rock.
WBIG, owned by radio giant Clear Channel, ushered out the format at 5 p.m. [Monday] by playing the Isley Brothers’ early 1960s classic “Shout.” The music segued into Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” inaugurating the station’s new playlist. WBIG later played tunes by Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller and Peter Frampton.
The change is not nearly as jarring as WHFS-FM’s sudden abandonment of alternative rock for Spanish pop, or WETA-FM’s dumping of classical music for news and talk last year.
Farhi said, “The switch reflects the decline of the ‘oldies’ format, and the changing contours of the radio business, which faces a many-headed threat from satellite radio, the Internet, iPods and other music-playing devices.”
What’s odd about the move, Farhi said, is that WBIG is leaving a relatively premium audience in pursuit of what looks like smaller, more highly contested ground. While WBIG playing oldies was No. 16 in audience share, it was No. 10 in ad revenue. By moving into classic rock, WBIG enters the neighborhood of long-time classic rock station WARW that maintains an audience share just over half the size WBIG is leaving.
The format change follows recent management turnover at station-owner Clear Channel, and in a few months the new management will either look like geniuses or be shuffled aside.
Farhi recently reported on the Washington Post‘s own new radio venture, which debuted last week. WTWP, a joint venture between the Post and and Bonneville International Corp., will rely heavily on interviews with Post reporters, “making WTWP both a news source and a continuous promotional vehicle for The Washington Post Co.,” said Farhi. The new venture initiated its own round of radio reshuffling earlier this year. WTWP broadcasts at 107.7 FM and 1500 AM, frequencies formerly occupied by all-talk WTOP, which was moved to 820 AM and 103.5 FM.