After a lengthy period of format stunting that included simulcasting Hot AC WPLJ, Cumulus Media has launched a country format called Nash-FM on the 94.7 frequency in New York.
Cumulus acquired the station, WFME, from Family Stations, a nonprofit Christian organization, in October of last year. The company recently changed the call letters to WRXP, which had last resided on an alternative station at 101.9 FM, fueling speculation of a rock-based format returning to the city. But at 9:47 a.m. ET Monday (January 21) the speculation ended as the new station, which is being positioned as "America's Country Station" hit the air.
According to the station website the outlet is dedicated to bringing listeners, "the best, newest and most exciting country artists on the planet." And while the initial hour of programming certainly included a number of current country hits including the first song played, "How Country Feels" by Randy Houser and "Southern Comfort Zone" by Brad Paisley, it's interesting to note that there were also a couple of older, more familiar songs like Garth Brook's "Friends in Low Places" and Brooks & Dunn's "Boot Scootin' Boogie" mixed in.
The new station brings the country format back to New York on a full-market signal for the first time since WYNY changed to dance in 1996. The format of WYNY was revived on a suburban signal in Westchester County for a few years before disappearing in the early 2000's.
Currently a partner in the country radio consulting firm Albright & O'Malley & Brenner, Mike O'Malley, who was hired by NBC to launch WYNY in 1987 and programmed the station until 1992, says there is every reason to believe the new format will do well. "I think this is great for the fans and great for the format. Back in the 90's there was over a million people in New York listening to country. Today, not only can Jason Aldean sell out Madison Square Garden in ten minutes but his music is also being played every time the Yankee's Brett Gardener walks to the plate."
He says Cumulus made this decision at a good time. "Every format will have peaks and valleys. Country has been on an upswing in terms of quality music product and delivering a wider audience for the past three or four years."