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David Burke

Format switch at 93.5 FM takes aim at ‘Mix 96'

Cumulus Broadcasting launched a star into the airwaves at 9:35 a.m. Thursday, the latest format change in the Quad-City radio market.

With new call letters, KQCS-FM, "The New Star 93.5" has a "hot adult contemporary" format, with a playlist that includes Nickelback, Sheryl Crow and Matchbox Twenty.

"You're going to hear songs and artists from the 1980s and '90s that really have been neglected for the most part in this market," said operations manager Darren Pitra. "You'll also be hearing new music as well."

The format is aimed predominately toward females in the 25-44 age group. Its main competitor is KMXG-FM 96.1, also known as "Mix 96," which has a similar demographic.

"This is a much more upbeat format," Pitra said. "It won't be nearly as sleepy as Mix 96. It's an alternative to what's going to be listened to in the workplace."

"Star 93.5" is kicking off its format change with 2,004 songs in a row before the first commercial. The 93rd caller after the first commercial, sometime next week, receives a 52-inch high-definition TV set, he said.

The change completes steps taken last week, when the former KORB-FM moved its active rock format to WXLP's 96.9 frequency. What was formerly "93 Rock" is now "97 Rock." The WXLP call letters will remain with "97 Rock," Pitra said.

Three of the personalities from the former "97X" will move to "Star 93.5," Pitra said — Melissa Martin, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Steve Donovan, 3-7 p.m.; and Bryan Bradford, 7 p.m. to midnight. Overnight hours will be on "autopilot," Pitra said.

"One of the nice things about all of this, especially in this day and age, is that we were able to keep all of our air talent," he said.

Pitra, who joined Dave Levora for the "97 Rock" morning show last week, said a new, local host will soon be announced for KQCS' morning show.

The 96.9 FM frequency operates at 50,000 watts of power, and the 93.5 FM has 6,600 watts.

Cumulus also owns KBEA-FM 99.7, KBOB-FM 104.9 and KJOC-AM 1170.

Out of 13 commercial radio stations in the Quad-City market, WXLP ranked 10th in all listeners, according to Arbitron, the radio ratings survey. The former "93 Rock" ranked fourth in the ratings survey taken last fall. A new ratings period began last week and continues for the next 12 weeks.

Larry Rosmilso, general manager of Clear Channel's Quad-City Radio Group, which includes "Mix 96" (ranked sixth last fall), said he hears big differences between that station and "Star 93.5."

"It sounds pretty young compared to what Mix is doing," said Rosmilso, who said that attracting listeners takes more than just a playlist. "It's not just the music. It's what you do around it."

Rosmilso said he's trying to cater to irate 97X listeners, upset that the classic-rock format is history. He said his company may try to appease them by tweaking the "classic hits" format of KCQQ-FM 106.5 (which ranked second last fall).

"There are some diehard X listeners. Now, where are they going to go?" Rosmilso said. "I'm more thrilled about that change than worrying about the other."

David Burke can be contacted at (563) 383-2400 or dburke@qctimes.com.

 

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