Friday, May 2, 2003
WAQZ cranks up new tower of power
Howard Stern's voice just got stronger in downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Stern's syndicated morning show, and the rest of the WAQZ-FM (97.3) alternative rock programming, comes in loud and clear inside the I-275 loop since the station moved its transmitter south from Blue Ash to the WSTR-TV (Channel 64) tower near College Hill.
"People who live and work anywhere in Cincinnati now have a better chance to hear our station at home and at work," says Jay Waggoner, engineering director for Infinity's four Cincinnati stations (WAQZ-FM, oldies WGRR-FM, country WUBE-FM and rock WKRQ-FM).
The transmitter move is one of many recent changes aimed at building listenership at the station started by former radio talk host Mike McMurray as Lebanon's WMMA-FM nine years ago. The tower change completes Infinity's transition from a station on the northern fringe of the market to a Cincinnati player aimed at men 18-34.
The Federal Communications Commission approved the tower move as part of station's transfer of the "city of license" from Lebanon to Fort Thomas, Ky. The change means that the strength of its signal must be beamed into Fort Thomas, in the heart of the Tristate, instead of the Warren County seat.
"Over 80 percent of our listening was done in a car, because that was the only place they could get us," says Mike Fredrick, general manager. "They couldn't get us at work. They would go to work listening to Stern, and then give up on the station."
The new transmitter also is 120 feet higher than the old one in Blue Ash, which helps project a stronger signal downtown.
"We're putting more sheer power into downtown than we ever did, and we're able to penetrate more downtown office towers than ever before," Waggoner says.
Signal strength has been improved for most of Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Clermont counties, he says.
In the winter quarter Arbitron ratings released last month, WAQZ-FM had a 5.3 percent share of the 18-34 audience - in fifth place behind WFKS-FM (KISS107.1), WEBN-FM (102.7), WIZF-FM (100.9) and WUBE-FM (105.1).
With all listeners, WAQZ-FM ranked No. 14 with 2.5 percent audience share.
Those who tune in WAQZ-FM will hear a different station than the one that debuted Stern here in January 2001. The station has stopped calling itself "Channel Z," in favor of simply "New Rock 97.3."
Infinity launched the alternative rock format in 2000 as "Channel Z," which was what rival Clear Channel in the 1990s had called its alternative rock station at 107.1. (That station is now top 40 rocker KISS107.1.)
WAQZ-FM also has dropped on-air promotional spots poking fun at Clear Channel's WEBN-FM, the city's established rock giant.
"WEBN-FM is well-programmed. They do what they do, and do it very well," says John Michael, program director and midday host (11 a.m.-2 p.m.).
"Instead of concentrating on them, we needed to concentrate on our own product - getting our jocks to sound better, and playing the right songs."
WAQZ-FM has cut back on playing Creed and Nickelback to air more Coldplay, Incubus, Sublime and Good Charlotte.
"We want to play more cuts, and go deeper with artists, and be more selective in which artists we deliver to Cincinnati," Michael says.
Final four: Praise from American Idol judges this week couldn't convince viewers to keep Lashundra "Trenyce" Cobbins in the competition.
Trenyce was eliminated by Idol viewers who chose to keep Joshua Gracin on the show despite his uninspired performances of two Neal Sedaka songs Tuesday.
Gracin heads into the last three weeks with Kimberley Locke, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Two will perform in the finals May 20, with the fans' favorite announced May 21.
In town: Country music singer Skip Ewing performs in Studio B 7-8 a.m. today on WUBE-FM before heading off to play for students at Merwyn Elementary School in Clermont County's Pierce Township.
TV today: David Morse's Hack (9 p.m., Channels 12, 7) ends the season concluding a two-part story about Mike (Morse) questioning the honesty of his former police partner (Andre Braugher).
Talk shows: Today's guests from TV Data:
Live with Regis and Kelly (9 a.m., Channel 9): Hilary Duff.
Wayne Brady (10 a.m., Channel 9): Mary Tyler Moore, film critic Richard Roeper.
The View (11 a.m., Channel 9): Antonio Banderas, Anna Paquin, James Marsden, Judge Judy Sheindlin.
Caroline Rhea (3 p.m., Channel 19): Jim Belushi, John Priest.
Back to the prom
Prom night: What are the issues?
The Insatiable Shopper
'Nashville Star' shows depth of country talent
WAQZ cranks up new tower of power
Mavericks pick Newport for comeback
On the fridge
Get to it!