Monday, Nov 12, 2018
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Music-Theater-Dance

Local radio station 98.3 chainging formats, bringing back Johny D

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    Radio host Johny D.

  • Chris-King

    Chris King

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Radio host Johny D.

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Katy Perry and One Direction are out. Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks are in.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, adult contemporary WMIM-FM My 98.3 is going country as WMIM-FM 98.3 Nash Icon, playing four decades of hits, from the 1980s to now.

The Monroe station’s format change comes months after Andy Stuart was hired to run Cumulus Media’s nine local radio stations.

And beginning Thursday, Johny D. will handle afternoons on WWWM-FM 105.5 (Star 105), a hot adult-contemporary station.

Chris-King

Chris King

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Johny D. was the morning drive-time voice for The Wolf, and previously worked with Stuart at Clear Channel, along with Denny Schaffer, who Stuart recently hired from New Orleans to host Star 105’s morning show.

“I think it became pretty obvious to me that the kind of station I want to build at Star 105, the talent I needed was pretty rare and I knew that in order for me to be successful with it I would have to go with people I knew and trusted,” Stuart said. “That’s why I looked at Denny and Johny.”

WMIM also will feature Rachel Marisay on mid-days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and doing double duty is WXKR-FM’s 94.5 morning man Mark Benson from 2 to 7 p.m., followed by just-hired Johny D. from 7 p.m. to midnight beginning in a couple weeks.

“Having me in this position, I gave the company fresh eyes and ears,” Stuart said. “In evaluating each station I asked, if I was going to start over again, how would we do it? … You start building something right for the moment, and that’s what we did here.”

WMIM joins three other local FM country stations: the Cumulus-owned WKKO 99.9 (K100), which is the No. 1 overall station in the market based on Arbitron numbers, iHeartMedia Inc.’s (formerly Clear Channel) WCKY 103.7, and the independently owned WPFX 107.7 (The Wolf).

Country music is enjoying a tremendous surge in popularity. As a recent New York Times article noted, country music “has displaced Top 40 as America’s most popular musical format.”

Having four country stations on the local dial, however, isn’t too much of a good thing, Stuart said, with the formats of WKKO, WCKY, and WPFX playing newer country hits by younger artists like Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, and Carrie Underwood.

Nash Icon, the flagship country brand for Cumulus Media, is a new and more inclusive format offering fewer contemporary artists but a broader range of “gold-based” hits from Nashville spanning nearly 35 years.

“The thing about Nashville is that it continues to produce new artists and new music all the time,” Stuart said. “It’s just gotten to the point where there’s no way to accommodate all of it. You really need to make a different station.”

Nash Icon is “a different sound and it doesn't blend too easily,” with newer country hits, he added. “There’s a market for contemporary country and a market for the gold-based libraries. And in Monroe we have a perfect fit for that.”

WMIM is the only terrestrial radio station in Monroe County, he said.

“And I do know from talking to the community that 30 years ago this station was a very important part of the community. That went away with some bad decisions by management, who tried to make it a Detroit radio station or part of the Toledo market,” Stuart said. “That was really a mistake and the station has not performed well since.

“The people in Monroe deserve and need their own radio station. It became obvious to me that we need to recommit ourselves to the city and county of Monroe.”

In charge of WMIM’s new identity is Chris King, the station’s program director, who will handle mornings from 6 to 10 on 98.3 Nash Icon. King was working weekends at The Wolf and worked with Stuart at Clear Channel, handling radio promotions and as the assistant programming director at WCKY between 2008 through 2011.

King is bullish on the country format.

“There’s been a lot of groundwork done to what is perfect for Monroe and the people of Monroe County and southeastern Michigan,” he said. “We determined this type of format is ideally suited for the market. We’re going to hit the 18-to-25 [demographic], but 25 to 54 is pretty dead-on,” he said.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.

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