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WSB-AM adds FM home at 95.5

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In a bid to attract a younger audience, Cox radio has decided to simulcast its news/talk station 750/WSB-AM at 95.5 on the FM dial starting at noon today.

As a result, hip-hop station 95.5/The Beat is losing its home after 11 years.

“Fewer people under the age of 40 are listening to AM,” said Tony Kidd, vice president and market manager for programming, said during an interview. By being on FM, this will enable WSB to draw from a bigger pool of potential listeners.”

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The station has not changed its 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekday lineup in several years. But its audience has gotten older. To keep WSB-AM viable longer term, Kidd said they had to make this move.

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Most of the Beat on-air and sales staffs are losing their jobs but will be considered for other positions in the Cox radio family, said Kidd. (Cox operates 86 stations in 19 markets.) That means morning hosts C.J. Simpson and Murph Dawg (right), afternoon jock Maverick and mid-day host K-Dub are among those who will be off the air.

WSB-AM has competed with R&B/hip-hop station V-103 for ratings domination in Atlanta for many years. But it has seen its listener numbers slide the past 18 months by more than 25 percent among all listeners and 54 percent among 25- to 54-year-olds, a key demographic for advertisers. Its Arbitron rating in February 2009 among 25- to 54-year-olds was 8.5, ranked No. 2 in the market. Last month, it had dipped to 3.9, ranked 11th.

All four Cox Atlanta FM stations are doing well, Kidd said. Unfortunately, the Beat, which gears itself to a younger audience, was generating the lowest revenues compared to classic hits station 97.1/The River, R&B station Kiss 104.1 and soft rock station B98.5.

WSB-AM in the past has been a top revenue producer among radio stations in the market. It always had an advantage among AM stations since it’s the only AM in Atlanta allowed to pump out 50,000 watts 24/7, enabling people to hear the signal at night for hundreds of miles. (Rival 640/WGST-AM, which used to simulcast on 105.7 for much of the 1990s, has to power down to just 1,000 watts at night and is often fuzz 25 miles outside of downtown Atlanta.)

The Beat competed in a crowded market packed with several pop and hip-hop stations,. In the past three months, Clear Channel’s 105.7/The Groove has shifted its music more to that of the Beat, playing more current hits by the likes of Usher, Drake and Katy Perry. It could benefit the most from the Beat’s departure. Currently, the 10-month-old station lags far behind the Beat, which ranked fourth among 18- to 34-year-olds in the July Arbitron ratings. The Groove ranked 17th.

Who might get hurt? Any stations on AM. This move gives people one less excuse to even explore the AM dial.

Tom Taylor, editor of radio-info.com, said simulcasts of news and talk stations on AM and FM is a modest trend, with stations in Seattle and  San Francisco doing so already. WTOP, the news station in Washington D.C., is on AM and FM and is the top station in that market. Cox radio has a similar simulcast in Jacksonville, Fla., where its news/talk station is No. 1 in the market.

The Beat’s signal, at 40,000 watts, isn’t quite as strong as that of its sister stations and skews strongly to the Northeast toward Gainesville.

This is the first major format shift in nearly a year in Atlanta radio since the Groove came into town last fall.

An HD-2 version of the Beat, with no on-air staff, will air at 97.1, though relatively few people listen to HD Radio.

WSB-Radio, like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is part of the Cox Media Group.

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280 comments Add your comment

steve

August 16th, 2010
11:33 am

You can still get the music you love at the New Power 100.1 Athens #1 Hit Music Station.

Reading This Makes Me EVEN MORE Thankful for XM

August 16th, 2010
11:38 am

You can still get the music you love, sans annoying DJ chatter, at XM Satellite Radio.

richard

August 16th, 2010
11:40 am

I stopped listening to WSB when it became a right wing station full of liars spinning half truths. Even the newscasts are slanted to support far right ideas. Good luck on the FM with that garbage.

Silent Jay

August 16th, 2010
11:41 am

Like this will save the place.

Zander

August 16th, 2010
11:43 am

Thank GOD! AM sucks, I can not pick it up around this area (GA)! Boortz is not RIGHT WING he is a Libertarian!!!

Zach Irwin

August 16th, 2010
11:50 am

Most news/talk radio stations are going to FM anyway, so this will be cool.

Chick Fil A on a Sunday

August 16th, 2010
11:51 am

Zach Irwin

August 16th, 2010
11:51 am

I can’t wait to see the new logo for WSB news/talk 95.5 FM.

ChippersLoveChild

August 16th, 2010
11:51 am

Well… who is going to teach me how to speak ebonics now? Sigh… this DJs are a joke.. hate to see anyone lose their job, but won’t miss it one bit.

Who cares

August 16th, 2010
11:51 am

Richard …. aka….deep thinker. Keep watching NBC, they need the ratings. Maybe Air America will come back.

Realness

August 16th, 2010
11:51 am

agree with richard

August 16th, 2010
11:52 am

put 680 or 790 on FM, but spare us the politcal garbage

Rodney Ho

August 16th, 2010
11:54 am

I was just sent the new logo and have updated the entry with it.

Lisa

August 16th, 2010
11:54 am

I am pleased to hear this!!! I live in Mcdonough and have a hard time receiving the station, receiving more static than talk. Kudo’s for bringing this to FM radio. I will be listening.

joemoedee

August 16th, 2010
11:54 am

The one AM channel in the Atlanta marketplace without signal issues is… 750. This makes little sense.

Eric

August 16th, 2010
11:54 am

This just makes no sense…you can pretty much pick up 750 from Atlanta to Macon or Chattanooga. It’s not the signal that doesn’t draw younger listeners – it’s the content. I don’t know many 18 year olds who would find Clark Howard or Scott Slade even remotely interesting.

James D.

August 16th, 2010
11:55 am

Might be worth the risk if Cox kept the current lineup of mostly syndie talk on the AM dial, but try a more localized talk lineup on the FM side. A few markets have tried this with some success.

Lisa

August 16th, 2010
11:56 am

joemoedee and eric, U can’t pick it up in mcdonough.

joe

August 16th, 2010
11:56 am

Dick’s nose is growing due to the lies in his post…typical lib trash.

JM

August 16th, 2010
11:59 am

I stopped listening to WSB years ago. Nothing but hate mongers belching bile all day.

Shane

August 16th, 2010
11:59 am

Woo-Hoo! Bulldogs on another FM station!

ed

August 16th, 2010
12:00 pm

Boortz is not a libertarian. He is as much of a republican water boy as Hannity and pizza dude Herman Cain. WSB should add at least one center left talker. At the moment that start out right, go far right, then move to looney tunes right in that order…

2OldForThis

August 16th, 2010
12:00 pm

i like AM. WSB 750 and WMLB 1690. The little Avondale Estates station has a surprisingly good signal.

seems like in the ’60s and ’70s WSB had an FM station but I don’t remember where on the dial it is.

JC

August 16th, 2010
12:00 pm

Awsome, I can now listen on the FM dial without static interfearing. That “Hip Hop” junk sucked anyway. Now Boortz can switch to his FM voice. LIBERTARIAN all the way!!!!

fulldawg

August 16th, 2010
12:01 pm

Till Hannity is gone WSB is history for me. (Getting rid of Boring Boortz would be an improvement also.)

Hmm.

August 16th, 2010
12:01 pm

I have been tired of listening to that Murphdawg guy for a while now. Does anyone else think of Malibu’s Most Wanted when they hear him talk. I mean DUDE, YOU’RE WHITE!!!

2OldForThis

August 16th, 2010
12:01 pm

Eric, it’s the 18 year old’s who need to be paying attention to Clark Howard!

Gerry

August 16th, 2010
12:03 pm

1st off, Libertarians are RIGHT WING, you moron… Libertarians are about as far right as you can go on a left/right scale of things.

2nd – maybe if WSB had just ONE PROGRAM that isn’t just another shill for the Republican Party I’d listen to it.

whatdoiknow

August 16th, 2010
12:03 pm

Lisa:

I have no problem receiving 750 AM down I-75 clearly to just above Macon. If the reception is bad in your car in McDonough, the issue cpuld be with your radio antenna. If you are listening in your office or home it could be antenna or the quality of your radio. Some things for you to check.

BigJake

August 16th, 2010
12:04 pm

Awesome! Now I can hear Neal, Royal and Belinda in stereo, get better reception, and hear more accounts of the dumb masses that elected that idiot to the White House – what a joke he has proven to be – in full support of a Muslim mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero! puh-leeze – don’t give the radicals their trophy! No Mosque, No Mas!

Joe

August 16th, 2010
12:04 pm

This is a good idea, but it’s a waste for 103.7, who already airs most of the programs that are on 95.5 FM. WSB-AM doesn’t have the reach of many 50,000 watt stations, like you have in Chicago, where they go 200 miles in each direction. This could be a big help in the area northeast of town, where WSB-AM is weak.

Jimmy Baron

August 16th, 2010
12:10 pm

I don’t get it either. 95.5 is not a good signal for much of the metro area. Where it is good, so is 750 am. Most people, if they want news/talk, already have 750 programmed. Those who liked 95.5 The Beat will just find an alternative.

Roswell Braves Fan

August 16th, 2010
12:12 pm

I listen to WSB rarely because:
1) they dropped the Braves
2) contrary to their tag line of “24 hour news station”, I heard very little election results last Tuesday night–it was all syndicated stuff
3) I find all talk radio to be annoying (right and left)

finally

August 16th, 2010
12:12 pm

Dammit!! No more beat the buzzer!?!?!?! Uggh stinker move WSB.

Jim

August 16th, 2010
12:13 pm

Wake up WSB. AM is not the problem. It is the programming. They have shunned agreeable stuff for the amoral agenda-pushers. I used to listen to WSB all the time, but now aside from the morning news (which begins repeating itself after 15 minutes), I don’t listen at all. In fact I no longer support advertisers on Boortz or Hannity. And BTW, if you don’t think Boortz is right wing, then you are rationalizing.).

Lar

August 16th, 2010
12:14 pm

I switched at 95.5 as soon as I read this. Thanks RoHo

Reggie

August 16th, 2010
12:15 pm

Big Jake,

I got got a call from your family in Alabama. They want you to come back home!!!

Beowulf

August 16th, 2010
12:19 pm

Silent Jay,

WSB is already one of the top-grossing AM stations in the country. This will only help bolster that position, FM money is more lucrative in general. Not sure I want to hear the commercials on there, but then again will they be any worse than the AM ones? This is a fiscal move by WSB that benefits those of us who like to listen to the channel. I am liking this, no more fade-out under power lines!

Oh, and for those who say the station itself is right-slanted, you do realize news is provided by contract from CNN right? The talk shows are mostly conservative, yes, but the local anchors are the most thorough in town.

Ed

August 16th, 2010
12:19 pm

I stopped listening to WSB AM several years ago. Other than Clark Howard and Georgia football, WSB 750 is just a bunch of right wingers spewing talking points all day. That is too bad, there was a time when it was a good station.

Tom

August 16th, 2010
12:20 pm

As Joe notes, this makes 103.7 in Gainesville superfluous. With the exception of Martha Zoller, 103.7 is simply a clone of 750 and 95.5 covers all of 103.7’s range with a stronger signal.

Not that it impacts most of Atlanta metro, but this makes me bet that Cox will go in a different direction with 103.7 for NE Ga.

Tuckerman

August 16th, 2010
12:20 pm

@BigJake – re NY Mosque: It’s called freedome of religion and private property, my friend. I thought that was something the right wing couldn’t get enough of. Go protest outside the mosque if you want, but they can build whatever they want.

Somebody explain to WSB that it’s not the radio band that’s turning young listeners off. It’s the Republican party press releases masquerading as journalism.

Hamad Meander

August 16th, 2010
12:20 pm

I’ve been listening to WSB on HD Radio and it’s fantastic – I’m not sure how the reception on HD is way OTP, but it’s been good intown and a few miles OTP. It sounds like Neal is sitting in your car with you, which can be a little scary.

Julian Mouton

August 16th, 2010
12:23 pm

WSB again sticks it the urban community. Remember the night the black presidential candidate was arrested at a WSB debate. The Kimmer said it: We Shackle Blacks.

Zell

August 16th, 2010
12:24 pm

Now we can hear Belinda touting Toyoters and hine tars for Honders for onlah nonteen-nonghty-none.

U Gotta B Kidding

August 16th, 2010
12:24 pm

This is a desperation move. WSB needs to change programming, not merely add a FM signal to boost sagging ratings.

Beowulf

August 16th, 2010
12:26 pm

According to Herman Cain, WSB stands for Welcome South, Brother! LOL

Hummon

August 16th, 2010
12:28 pm

Here’s wishing that UGa football will be broadcast somewhere else so I never have to tune in to WSB ever again.

I find myself at 1690 more and more, just for the unexpectedness of it.

Tami

August 16th, 2010
12:31 pm

I was ecstatic for all of 20 seconds. Then, I discovered that I can’t get 95.5 FM here in my office building either. Darn!

Noooo!

August 16th, 2010
12:31 pm

Is anyone sad that The Beat is gone?? They played good music remixes on that station. I am sad for everyone that has lost their job as of this result. I miss The Kimmer….

GEORGIA97

August 16th, 2010
12:32 pm

Ummmm….am I the only dummy who DIDN’T know that C.J. and Murph Dawg are white? You never would’ve known that listening to them on the air and I had no clue. WOW.