Published on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 12:30
Hot on the heels of yesterday's rumors of an upcoming format flip, Clear Channel Media + Entertainment Chicago has changed the format of WNUA-FM at Noon today from the Hispanic Hot AC/CHR-formatted station known as Mega 95.5 to the Regional Mexican-formatted station, now branded as El Patron 95.5.
Shortly before Noon, the Mega 95.5 Facebook page
posted this announcement: "A las 12 p.m. algo grande llega al 95.5 FM, ¡escuchalo!" That translates to "At 12 p.m., something big comes to the 95.5 FM, listen to it!" Once Noon came around, gone were the songs by Pitbull and Shakira, replaced by such older Mexican artists as Los Tigres del Norte and Los Tucanes De Tijuana. The station is now using the slogan "Mexicano Como Tu" or "Mexican Like You."
As written about on HERE
yesterday, Clear Channel had registered a pair of new domain names, with one being the upcoming new format and one being a decoy -- a trick Clear Channel has done for years before a format change. One was the Adult CHR/Hot AC format known as "Now," while the other was the station's new format of "El Patron" (which roughly translates to "The Boss").
Of the two new domain names registered, one of the two, 955ElPatron.com
, now works as the station's new website.
There is no word from Clear Channel as to the fates of Mega 95.5's staffers. It appears for now that most are staying.
Mega 95.5 was launched on May 22, 2009
, when Clear Channel took off its long-running Smooth Jazz format on WNUA-FM, believing that the Spanish music station would gain higher ratings and better billing than the former Smooth Jazz station. Despite the high expectations, the station greatly underperformed in comparison to what Clear Channel believed they could achieve. With stiff competition from Univision Radio and SBS, who had both being doing Spanish-targeted formats longer and better, Clear Channel had difficulties cutting into the competition's ratings, and more importantly, cutting a big enough piece of the advertising pie.
The new "El Patron 95.5" will compete directly with Univision's WOJO-FM, a consistent Top 10 radio station, and SBS' WLEY-FM, a consistent Top 20 radio station -- both of which offer nearly identical programming with WNUA-FM's new format. With the Regional Mexican format, which skews older than its previous format, Clear Channel hope to attract more advertisers than Mega 95.5 was able to do. It remains to be seen if Clear Channel's sales crew can break into the Hispanic advertising market, even with the new format, after over three years of being unable to do so.
Clear Channel's account executives can also sell advertising for WNUA-HD2, which is a station that has been airing ESPN Deportes programming since February 1st
. The station is additionally broadcast on translator W248BB, heard in the Chicago area on regular radios on 97.5 FM.
This is not the first time that Clear Channel has considered flipping Mega 95.5 to "El Patron." Back in the spring of 2010, less than one year after the launch of Mega 95.5, Clear Channel was seriously looking at flipping from younger-targeted Spanish CHR Mega to the older-targeted El Patron. A domain name was not only purchased, but it pointed directly to Mega 95.5's website. That domain name, ElPatron955.com
, still points to Mega955.com
(which in turn now points to 955ElPatron.com
, due to this afternoon's big change). According to insiders, a full website had already been created at that time and the company was just a couple weeks away from making the switch. Clear Channel held off from making the flip, because it appeared Mega 95.5's ratings were finally on the upswing. The decision makers decided to be more patient and give the Mega format more time to succeed.
At that point, since news of "El Patron" coming to Chicago was widespread, Clear Channel posted up a picture on the ElPatron955.com website that said in Spanish: "Do not believe the gossip. Mega is here to stay! The only Boss in the City of Chicago is Mega 95.5." After about 15 seconds, the website then re-directed visitors to Mega 95.5's website.
Soon after, insiders in 2010 told CRM that Clear Channel even toyed with the idea flipping the then-under-performing WLIT-FM to "93.9 El Patron," giving WNUA-FM a Spanish sister-station and hopefully attracting more advertisers by packaging the two stations. WLIT-FM even began airing promos on its station to let listeners know that if they enjoyed the music on WLIT-FM then they should start listening to WKSC-FM -- seemingly preparing fans for a possible switch. However, WLIT-FM stopped under-performing and ratings rose the following month. With the giant advertising months of the "Holiday Lite" period right around the corner, the idea of dropping the AC format for the Regional Mexican format was itself dropped. As WLIT-FM continues to be a ratings and billings juggernaut in the last quarter of each year, the decision to not flip the station was clearly a wise one.
Obviously, the patience previously given to Mega 95.5 by Clear Channel executives has worn out, and the long-talked about switch has now occurred. The question now changes to "How patient will Clear Channel be with El Patron 95.5?" If unable to increase ratings and revenue with El Patron 95.5, Clear Channel has "Now 95.5" waiting in the wings...