In October of 2005, as your webmaster was preparing to leave Memphis (the first time), I wanted to record a snapshot of the market as it was at that time. It’s also nice knowing the people who you record :). Syd, as I recall, was the promotions director for 93X as well as the midday host. 93X was live all day, and didn’t go jockless until midnight. It was the only Mainstream/Alternative Rock station in the city at that time and despite it’s low power (3.5 KW) still managed to show up in the ratings.
Mainstream Rock had been the format of WMFS since 1996, when Belz Broadcasting first put the station on the air. The transmitter was/is in Bartlett, which meant that the signal did have city grade coverage to all of Memphis and the rest of Shelby county, although there were signal holes to the far north and east in places like Millington and Arlington. The studios in 2005 were at 1060 Union Ave., along with WMC AM, WMC FM and WMC TV 5. The three radio stations were owned by Infinity/CBS and the TV side was owned by Raycom Media. It was always strange having that arrangement in the building, but it was considered heritage digs at the time. WMFS moved in there in 2001 after Belz sold the station. At the time this was recorded, I was live on the air on WMC-FM in the next room… one of those rare, weekday fill-in jobs that came along once in a while.
There had been suspicion for a long time that 92.9 would change formats to ‘something’ – we knew not what, and for that matter, in 2005, we had no real rumors to go on other than that the ratings were a constant problem for Infinity. After I left Memphis, those suspicions turned to real fears among the airstaff in 2006, as Infinity sold the entire radio cluster to Entercom Memphis, LLC, which already owned 104.5, 94.1 and 680 AM. It took until May of 2009 for Entercom to decide to actually flip the format. Today, 92.9 simulcasts ESPN Sports with it’s sister station 680 AM. Both stations hold the WMFS calls (AM/FM), and as the strange wheel of formats goes, it was WMC-AM 790 that had ESPN before going Classic Country back in 2005.
And, for the second time today, I gotta mention Citadel’s 98.1 WXMX – “The MAX” which is where the Mainstream/Alternative format currently sits.
Memphis is a strange radio town. Your webmaster knows it well. The more things change there, the more they stay the same. There are a number of stations that keep flipping the format wheel. One day, five or six of those signals will be able to boast that they played every kind of music or aired talk and or sports… When will the jockeying for format/frequency position end?