Next to April Fool’s Day, Labor Day is, traditionally, perhaps the most ideal time for a radio station to unveil a new format. The 3-day September weekend, summer’s “last gasp,” is all about outdoor fun accompanied by a musical soundtrack provided by radios—on boats, beaches, backyards and autos transporting from one to the next. End result: lots of listeners for long periods of time.
This weekend, Clear Channel’s longtime step-child, country station WDTW (“The Fox”) is gone, replaced by “The Beat”—playing “feel good” dance hits (“Rhythmic A/C”) from the past several decades at 106.7 FM. The station is geared towards an audience in the 25-54 demographic, skewing female. Susan Whitall chimes in in today’s Detroit News.
So far, in the midst of its 10,000 non-stop, commercial-free hits in-a-row introduction, the music has been varied and far-ranging, from Katie Perry’s 2009 “I Kissed a Girl” to mid-90s hits from En Vogue and Will Smith, even back to the 70s with Marvin Gaye and “Sexual Healing.”
While the format may remind some of WMXD 92.3 FM, an Urban A/C, “The Beat of Detroit” is color-blind when it comes to its artists; witness the aforementioned Perry as well as Justin Timberlake, Cher, even Abba (with “Dancing Queen”). Friends of Tanner Friedman in the industry have indicated to us that the station will take a cue from CBS’s “Smooth Jazz” in its quest for an ethnically diverse audience. And, while “The Mix” is one place from which to potentially pirate listeners, the new Clear Channel upstart also no doubt has its sights set on Citadel’s WDVD (96.3), whose Contemporary A/C station continues to increase market share, as well as “Detroit’s Nicest Rock,” WNIC.
Time will tell, obviously, on “The Beat’s” future. Residing down at the far end of the radio dial has never boded well for any radio station, anywhere, ever. On the other hand, one would hope Clear Channel will, for a change, promote the station and inject live, real, local talent. Who knows: If the the recent re-stocking of sister WDFN (“The Fan”) with Detroit-based personalities after a failed experiment in long-distance talent is any indication, perhaps the radio giant is turning over a new leaf.