Published on Monday, 18 June 2012 17:03
It would appear that Clear Channel Media + Entertainment Chicago is planning a major change in the very near future for WNUA-FM. A pair of new domain names have been registered for Chicago's 95.5 FM, with both currently pointing to Clear Channel's iHeartRadio website.
The two new domains, 955NowChicago.com
, were created on Friday anonymously and transferred to Clear Channel's nameservers this morning. The eagle eyes of RadioInsight.com
's Lance Venta spotted the new domains and wrote about them
on his website earlier today.
It is not uncommon for Clear Channel to register two or more very different domain names before launching a new radio station. The tactic is done supposedly to throw off competitors who may try to steal their idea before they can launch the station. The domain name game has been done by Clear Channel since Randy Michaels was the company's CEO many years ago, and since copied by other radio station corporations.
WNUA-FM is currently the Hispanic Hot AC/CHR-formatted station known as Mega 95.5. On May 22, 2009
, Clear Channel took off its long-running Smooth Jazz format to replace it with Mega 95.5, believing that the Spanish music station would gain higher ratings and better billing than the former Smooth Jazz station. While the ratings have overall been somewhat better than what they were near the end of the Smooth Jazz era, the station has still 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.
Of the two formats suggested by the domains recently started, "El Patron" and "Now," the most logical choice of a format flip would be to Clear Channel's "Now" format. The company has been slowly adding "Now" stations to many of its markets, including in Dallas, one month ago today. In every instance, the "Now" station is either a CHR format or a Hot AC format, which is basically a CHR format aimed at adults -- specifically adult females, ages 25-54. Since Clear Channel already has WKSC-FM/103.5 Kiss FM in Chicago, which is a CHR format, that would mean that "95.5 Now" would be a format almost identical to WTMX-FM/101.9 The Mix. With WTMX-FM enjoying its best ratings ever, including hitting #1 for its first time in the most recent ratings
, not to mention becoming a top billing station in Chicago, Clear Channel is certainly looking to cut into that more lucrative pie instead.
The Now stations tend to have a local morning show and Clear Channel voice trackers/syndicated shows the rest of the daytime. The stations go jockless late at night and overnight. A sample of Clear Channel's Now format can be found HERE
, which is Dallas' new KDMX-FM.
The other possible format change is to the Regional Mexican music station known as "El Patron." This is not the first time that Clear Channel has considered flipping Mega 95.5 to "El Patron" (which roughly translates to "The Boss"). 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
to this day. 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.
A sample of Clear Channel's El Patron format can be found HERE
, which is Atlanta's WBZY-FM.
Neither of the above mentioned two scenarios are for sure coming to Chicago's WNUA-FM. However, Clear Channel does not purchased & point domain names for no reason. Unless ratings spike upward to save this station once again (which is doubtful), expect a change on the 95.5 frequency in the very near future.