Exclusive: IHeartMedia switching 92.3, 96.7 to hip hop

This was posted on Thursday, November 3, 2016 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

IHeartMedia Atlanta is going to switch two of its more modest  signals – 92.3 and 96.7 – to hip hop as early as Monday, according to two well-placed sources in the radio business.

UPDATE: It was pushed back a week. The changes will more likely happen on Monday, November 14.

If this happens, Atlanta’s FM dial will soon have six hip-hop stations, making an already saturated market that much more packed. The other five are V-103, Hot 107.9, Streetz 94.5 and two classic hop-hop stations Boom 102.9 and OG 97.9.

Clearly, IHeartMedia isn’t afraid to go into crowded arenas. The company in 2012 dumped a successful rock format (Project 96.1) in favor of a top 40 station Power 96.1 in a market with three other pop stations, seeing more cross-promotional opportunities like its annual Jingle Jam concert. All four stations (Power, Q100, Star 94.1, B98.5) are now in a tight race for listeners.

IHeartMedia, which distributes the syndicated show The Breakfast Club through Premiere Networks, also needs a home for the New York-based morning show since it was dropped by Streetz. That morning show is expected to land on this new station.

For the past year, IHeartMedia has had a contemporary Latino hits format at 92.3 called Mia to complement its existing 10-year-old regional Mexican music station 105.3/El Patron, which is on a stronger signal and is much more established. (Tony Gray, an urban music consultant, was guessing a couple of days ago that El Patron would be the target but Mia appears to be a lower-risk move.)

At 92.3, IHeartMedia – which used to be called Clear Channel – briefly ran comedy before moving to Hispanic sports. Then last October, the company tried the Latino music format.

IHeartMedia in recent years has been using its 96.7 signal as a simulcast for its adult rock format Radio 105.7 (WRDA-FM).

Before then, it has used 96.7 for a multitude of formats over the past 15 years.  Among them: hip hop (Wild 96.7) soft rock (Lite 96.7), a simulcast of Hispanic station Viva 105.7, a rock station 96.7/The Buzz, a country oldies station called 96.7/The Legend and a simulcast of a dance pop station 96.7/The Groove (later called Wild again.)

How are the current hip-hop stations doing? V-103 in the latest Nielsen Audio monthly book finished No. 2 in the market with a 6.4 rating, followed by Hot 107.9 at 5.2 in third place. V-103 is No. 1 among 25 to 54 year olds while Hot is No. 1 in the younger 18 to 34 demo. Streetz 94.5, on a very limited signal, pulls in a respectable 1.8 (20th place) and 3.8 among 18 to 34 year olds (11th place.) OG 97.9, the old-school hip-hop station, garnered a 1.5 while Boom 102.9, which recently lost its south-skewing 97.5 signal to R&B station Majic, finished with a 0.7.

The hip-hop genre drew a combined 15.6 rating in the market. This is just behind news/talk (16.4 combined rating from six stations) and pop (15.7 combined from four stations).

92.3 mostly covers inside the Perimeter though it can reach out a few miles beyond that as well.

Here’s the coverage map for 92.3.

92-3-coverage-map

And here is the map for 96.7, which skews South:

96-7-coverage-map

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