Let There Be (Alt) Rock: Alternative Returns to NYC Radio After Six Years

After a six-year void, alternative rock radio is back on New York City airwaves. The switch was flipped this morning on contemporary hits station 92.3 AMP Radio to become ALT 92.3 FM following the completion of a mega-merger between CBS Radio and Entercom Communications.

ALT 92.3 is NYC's first new alt-rock station since 101.9 RXP flipped formats to all news in the summer of 2011. (Note: during an ownership change, 101.9 flipped back to modern rock for three months in 2012 as a placeholder before switching to news again, as WFAN-FM.) The new station, which says it will be an "an expertly curated playlist with local, informed discovery," is celebrating its launch by playing 10,000 songs in a row without commercial interruptions. The station offers a stream on its website for those outside the market.

The station's first block of songs: Foo Fighters' "My Hero," followed by 30 Seconds to Mars' "Walk on Water," MGMT's "Kids," Vance Joy's "Lay It On Me" and -- finally! -- Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

"In a city where alternative music is a way of life, we are thrilled to finally fill the void in radio in New York City," said Pat Paxton, Entercom’s President of Programming.  "With the launch of ALT 92.3, we will cater to the passionate / core audience who have helped define the genre for decades -- and we couldn’t be more excited to turn up the volume."

Despite changes in consumer behaviors, radio remains a top medium in terms of reach and listening habits. This year's Nielsen Music 360 Study, out this week, found that terrestrial and satellite radio comprise 24 percent of listening time in the U.S., behind only the various forms of streaming choices, at 41 percent. That 24 percent is only down 2 percentage points since 2015, even as music streaming services continue to grow. Further, radio continues to have the biggest reach among all music mediums, at 93 percent of the U.S. population.

Entercom announced on Friday that its merger with CBS Radio is complete, giving the radio giant a nationwide footprint of 235 stations. The FCC approved the merger last week, and shareholders voted in favor on Wednesday.