Don't touch that dial

Radio: That is, until you find the new homes of four radio stations that got shuffled and reorganized as of this past weekend.

September 11, 2001|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN TELEVISION WRITER

Baltimore's largest radio player is shuffling the formats and voices at four stations in an effort to nail down a greater proportion of the listening audience.

All the involved stations are controlled by the Infinity radio division of Viacom, a major media conglomerate.

As of 3 p.m. yesterday, WQSR, the home to "oldies" standards and Ravens football games, moved down the dial to 102.7 FM.

Meanwhile, WXYV, that frequency's former call letters, has been assigned to 105.7 FM, the former home of the oldies station. Its format will have an urban, contemporary feel, according to station officials.

The moves will accomplish two things: First, the Viacom stations will gain a greater audience for the popular "oldies" format on the stronger signal of 102.7 FM. Second, the company will compete directly with WERQ (92.3 FM) and WWIN-FM (95.9 FM), both Radio One stations, for African-American listeners on the newly constituted WXYV.

"We're trying to cover as many demographics and listeners as we can," said Robert Phillips, the general manager for several of the company's Baltimore radio stations.

Staff members were not told of the new format on 105.7 FM until yesterday. And the changes, which started being phased in this weekend, initially confused many listeners. "I grew up on the music of WQSR," said Barbara Friedland, who lives in Canton. "But 102.7 used to be the contemporary rock and roll. I used to listen with my son."

The company is tweaking the format of its adult contemporary music station, WWMX (106.5 FM), giving a slightly edgier feel that may appeal to former listeners of the old WXYV. Recent WXYV hosts Jimi Roberts and Stacy Lyn are both joining WWMX in new roles. And former WWMX figures Greg Carpenter and Tamara Nelson will team up to host a new morning show on WLIF (101.9 FM), an easy-listening station.

Previous WLIF hosts Michael Filippelli and Mary Street were fired by the station. And Rouse & Co., the WQSR morning show, has dropped Linda Sherman, and replaced her with former WXYV midday host Kristie McIntyre.

Along with Infinity and Paramount studios, Viacom also owns the CBS and UPN television networks, Showtime cable channel, and more than 30 local television stations outright, including Baltimore's WJZ.

The programming changes are not affecting Viacom-owned WJFK-AM (1300 AM), which has raucous talk and sports programming, and Annapolis-based WHFS (99.1 FM), which plays modern rock and serves both Baltimore and Washington.

For the next week, listeners may hear WQSR and WXYV still announced as the call letters on their old signals. That will continue only until the Federal Communications Commission grants its complete approval of the switch, which is considered a formality.

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