Well, OK, back in the day (and by “day” we mean, say, 1989), a CHR war involved Morning Zoos, promotional vehicles, contests out the wazoo, and, well, you know, radio.
But let’s cut Ithaca, New York a break. After all, it didn’t have a CHR station back then – or for most of the last quarter-century, actually.
So it was a pretty big deal when the Finger Lakes Radio Group moved what had been WFLR-FM 95.9 about 20 miles southeast, from its longtime home in Dundee, NY to Odessa, NY, making it an Ithaca-market station on a new frequency – 95.5 – and new calls, WFIZ. It launched two weeks ago with, yup, top 40 as “Z-95.5.”*
That got the attention of the big dog in town. Saga Communications owns two of the three commercial AMs in the Ithaca market, plus the three big FM signals, and it reacted swiftly and decisively: on Friday, it took one of its translators, W276AO (103.3 – yes, 103.3), switched its feed to the HD2 subchannel of WIII (99.9), and flipped it to top 40 as “Hits 103.3.”
So a town that had no CHR in early September now has two of them – both running jockless, for now, running 10,000 songs commercial-free (Z) or 103 days without commercials (Hits).
We spent much of the day today in Ithaca and nearby Cortland, and we have some Z as part of this week’s ID update for that market. No Hits, alas – they were doing some technical tweaking on the HD signal and it was off the air while we were within signal range. We’ll try to fix that in the next few weeks. (Or the next time the trop comes up towards Cortland and we can hear WIII’s HD2 directly.)
*So what happened to WFLR-FM’s old format, country? Finger Lakes moved it to WFLR(AM) on 1570, which had been doing news/talk – and then put a new translator on the air in Dundee at 96.9, W245BL. “Country 95.9” became “Country 96.9” – and you can hear an ID from its new identity (taped off the AM side) in this week’s update, too.