Published on Monday, 17 June 2013 09:40
"The Lite" has been turned off -- most likely for good. WLIT-FM has re-branded and revamped itself as of this morning. The station now has a new on-air name, new online name, and a retooled format. It also has dropped it last remaining live personalities with the changes.
The "new" station launched today at 9:00am with an announcement by Clear Channel Media + Entertainment's syndicated radio host Ryan Seacrest.
No longer called "93.9 Lite FM - Chicago's Best Variety," the station is now re-branded as "93.9 My FM - More Variety From The 80's 'Til Now." It has been called "The Lite" or "Lite FM" since 1989 when it was a much softer (musically speaking) light-rock station.
Musically, the station will sound very much the same as it has for months. WLIT-FM has been moving far away from its Adult Contemporary (AC) past and pushing more of a Hot AC format for quite a while now, certainly since the end of the most recent Christmas music period. The music on 93.9 My FM is much more upbeat and features many more current hits than in years past. The station will have some crossover of newer songs on its playlist with sister-station WKSC-FM/103.5 Kiss FM, just as it has done for a while. The biggest difference that may be noticeable by the public is that the fairly narrow playlist of 93.9 The Lite is now expanded more with 93.9 My FM, with a special focus on songs from the 1980s.
The music playlist on 93.9 My FM will also me near identical to that already played on at least three other Chicago radio stations and a handful of suburban ones -- with safe, female-friendly programming and imaging. It is being done to court the highly-desired advertiser-favorite demographic of Women 25-54.
Along with the new name comes a new logo (see below) and a new domain address in 939MyFM.com
One thing NOT changing is the annual Christmas Music programming which takes place in November and December for 93.9. The all-Holiday music format is a massive ratings and revenue winner for Clear Channel. However, the name "Holiday Lite" will probably be changed to reflect the station's new branding... possibly something along the lines of "My Holiday Station."
Unfortunately, as is the case too often... with the additions, come the subtractions. The last remaining live and local personalities on WLIT-FM are no more. The morning show with Jeff Corder and Karen Williams has been canceled. Corder and Williams have been released.
Morning show host Jeff Corder is a Chicago radio veteran, who previously worked for many years on WTMX-FM, as well as a time with WCFS-FM. He joined WLIT-FM in July of last year
Karen Williams is also a longtime veteran of Chicago radio and with Clear Channel. She joined WNUA-FM in 1991, first as a part-timer on weekends and eventually moving up to mornings. She hosted WNUA-FM's Smooth Jazz morning show solo at first, and later, alongside Chicago Jazz legend Ramsey Lewis. After Clear Channel ended the Smooth Jazz format on WNUA-FM to flip the format to "Mega 95.5" in 2009, Williams was moved to sister-station WLIT-FM as a morning news anchor, where she has been ever since... up until around 3:00am today.
Midday host Robin Rock has been removed from the airwaves. However, she remains with Clear Channel, where she has worked since 1997, and will resurface later in a still-unspecified position. All of the rest of the station's voice-tracking DJs are gone from 93.9.
For the next two weeks or so, the station will run jockless with some commercial-free blocks. At the end of this month, Clear Channel Media + Entertainment Chicago is expected to announce a new Program Director for the station, as well as a new on-air staff, including some local hosts.
All of the changes are being done to jump start the station, which has been sagging in the overall ratings and the ratings of its target demographic (Women 25-54) in the months when it isn't playing Christmas music. In the most recent Arbitron radio ratings, WLIT-FM was at a tie for #12 with a 2.9 share. For Persons 25-54, it wasn't much better, coming in at a tie for #13 with a 2.8 share. For Women 25-54, the station was barely holding on to the Top 10, coming in at #8 with a 3.5 share.
Clear Channel has other "My FM" Hot AC-formatted stations in other markets, including Los Angeles, where its 104.3 My FM (KBIG-FM) has been consistently at or near #1 in the ratings for many months.
In a statement issued this morning, Tommy Austin, Vice President of Programming for CCM+E Chicago, said: "We received feedback from thousands of listeners who want a station that is as diverse as Chicago, with commercial free commutes so their drives are full of music. 93.9 MY FM will play the best songs from the 80's until now with all different styles and textures, reflecting what our listeners want to hear. MY 93.9 will also continue the Holiday music tradition later in the year."