Geeking out, radio-style.
Last week brought the announcement that CBS Radio Pop Songs reporter WXRK New York had changed its call letters to WNOW, better reflecting the "92.3 Now" moniker that the station has sported since its 2009 flip to the format. (The WXRK calls dated to the station's history as rock-formatted "K-Rock," led for many years by Howard Stern's top-rated morning show.)
Perhaps in an era of Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings measurement, where a listener's choices are gauged electronically, call letters may not carry the same impact that they did in the days of audience-completed diaries, when call letter recall was key. But, they still are identifiers. (And, they make for a fun topic for radio geeks like me.)
Many reporters to Billboard's Nielsen BDS-based Pop Songs chart boast call letters befitting their nicknames, as WNOW finally does. KIIS (Los Angeles), WKSC (Chicago) and KHKS (Dallas), among others, do the job for "Kiss"-named stations; KAMP (Los Angeles) couldn't better promote the station's "AMP Radio" handle; and KMXV (Kansas City) clearly infers its "Mix" moniker, with several adult pop "Mix" stations also including an "m" and "x" in their call signs.
Other stations have gotten quite creative with their call letters. There's no correlation between KBFF (Portland, Ore.) and its "Live 95.5" nickname - but, notes program director Louie Diaz, the station does strive to be your best friend forever.
With WNOW affixed to Now 92.3 at last, what other call letters might be natural fits at pop radio?
Could KCHR and/or WCHR join in, playing off the format's "CHR" shorthand (for "contemporary hit radio")? Not yet, at least. The former is an oldies station in Charleston, Mo., while the latter serves up religious programming in Trenton, N.J.
Similarly, KHIT plays Spanish AC in Madera, Calif., and WHIT spins oldies in Madison, Wis. Such call letters would fit nicely on any station that specializes in hit radio.
And, might Clear Channel Media + Entertainment consider migrating the WPOP call letters from its Hartford, Conn., AM sports station to a signal that actually plays pop music? (Or, contemplate dealing them to another chain?; logic does exist behind the calls: WPOP was a flame-throwing top 40 outlet in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.)
Also: there's no KPOP, according to the FCC. But, unless a station plans to focus exclusively on Korean pop (aka, K-pop) stars like PSY, the Wonder Girls and Big Bang, such call letters might not make the most sense, anyway.
Oh, there's also no KPSY or WPSY ... just in case anyone is considering going all-"Gangnam Style," all the time.