The radio waves in Baltimore have heated up with a significant format change for simulcast AM/FM stations WYST (1010 AM and 92.3 FM).
92 Star's adult contemporary music sound went up-tempo to a "rythmic CHR" format -- short for dance-oriented Contemporary Hit Radio -- and the stations assumed a new identity as 92 Q.
"It's way beyond a format tweaking. We're really a whole new radio station," says promotions director Hal Martin.
New call letters, which will include the letter "Q" but have not been revealed, are pending FCC approval "within a few days," according to Martin.
The change was ordered by corporate owner United Broadcasting Company, of Bethesda. It shifts the target audience of the stations to the key 18-to-34 age grouping, younger than that addressed by the 10-year-old 92 Star's easy favorites formula.
Competitive targets include both WBSB-FM 104.3 (B-104), also a CHR format, and the urban-contemporary-oriented WXYV-FM 102.7 (V-103).
"We think that there's a big hole in the market for this kind of station," says Martin. He lists Madonna, Michael Bolton, Paula Abdul and the C and C Music Factory among the artists likely to be heard frequently on the new 92 Q.
Listeners were not warned before the easy favorites format was replaced with dance songs at 4 p.m. Friday.
No on-the-air personnel changes were announced as part of the station change, although Martin says that in at least the first week of the new sound, "you won't hear a lot of disc jockeys" as the station emphasizes music. An exception is Don O'Brien's weekday morning program, which will be heard as usual.
The station promises only one commercial interruption every hour.
The new sound is being administered by a new program director, Jeff Ballentine, who comes to Baltimore from Dayton, Ohio's WGTZ-FM. One of the consultants involved in designing the new format is Steve Kingston, currently program director of New York's highly-rated Z-100, who was formerly involved in B-104's operation in Baltimore.