At last, a format change I like

With the dust still settling from a major radio shakeup 10 days ago, Washington radio saw another format change today. But this was more palatable, and it seems the only people fired were the horrible morning crew.

Classic Rock 94.7 WARW (“The Arrow”) is now “94.7 The Globe.” They’re hawking some sort of environmentally conscious stuff along with the basic change in tunes, and they’re issuing a 12-part proclamation of their new direction.

I don’t know about the environmental stuff — Marc Fisher raises some skepticism — but the rest of it isn’t b.s. For instance, #4 (DeeJays know the music) is absolutely true, mostly because they’re keeping D.C. radio institutions Weasel and Cerphe.

Fisher says “Bye Bye Classic Rock,” but that seems overstated. DCRTV, our local media blog that clocks in at roughly 80-90 percent reliability, says 94.7 will still play the Stones, the Beatles and all the great old stuff. (If you get lost with all this stuff, check DCRTV’s excellent station guide, which is steeped in area history.)

So we’re keeping a likable classic rock station, losing the morning show, keeping the great DJs and adding some newer music. It’s basically like the rock station you grew up with, except that
the playlist won’t be stuck in 1985. (Woo hoo hoo!)

(Hmmmm … now that I check, the radio station I grew up with has undergone a few changes itself. Atlanta’s legendary 96Rock is now “Project 9-6-1,” playing Stone Temple Pilots and Evanescence. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’ve never done drugs in my life, but I’d hate to see America deprived of all the great stoner rock stations pumping out a steady diet of Floyd and Zeppelin to aging potheads and a new generation of kids rebelling against emo and R&B. And they’d been 96Rock for 32 years.)

In a sense, this is a hybrid of two great old Washington radio stations — classic rock WARW and alternative legend WHFS. The latter is especially important to me. I first heard WHFS on one of my long vacation drives in the early ’90s, when I was stunned to hear XTC while flipping around the dial. Every time I was near Washington, I’d make an effort to pick it up. My buddy J.P. and I listened to it on the night the Cheers finale was on — Kath, the sexy-sounding DJ, kept complaining that no one was listening because everyone was glued to the TV. But by the time I moved here in 1998, the skate-punks had taken over. The golden age of alternative music was dying, and WHFS made especially poor programming decisions. When it flipped to Spanish in 2005, it was mourned — and it shot up the ratings.

Cerphe and Weasel had long since bailed, leaving WHFS to go through a few more weird contortions as a Baltimore talk station that dabbled in music until … well, this week, apparently. (96Rock and WHFS are apparently preserving their famous formats on their secondary digital streams.)

I’ve seen a few other disappointing format changes since moving here, some lovingly compiled here. I was especially saddened by the loss of the “Jammin’ Oldies” station, but I’m apparently the only person who’ll listen to Motown, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind & Fire these days. And we’ve seen Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff, the great old footballers who bicker amiably through Redskins games, lose their play-by-play guy (Frank Herzog) and get booted to a trio of stations owned by Redskins commander-in-chief Dan Snyder. Three stations, and I can’t pick them up in my house. Great job, Dan.

At last, I feel like a winner here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to fix my presets.

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2 Responses to At last, a format change I like

  1. DevilMacDawg says:

    I don’t understand why they had to change 96 Rock’s name. They updated the format somewhat, but it’s still playing a good bit of the same music. I, too, remember 96 Rock from my youth – whenever we came up to the Big City, it was always such a treat to listen to that wonderful station, instead of the really crappy Savannah ones.

    Still, after a bit of time, the ‘new’ station is alright.

  2. Pingback: Does capitalism suck? (Radio rant) « Mostly Modern Media

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