Another major market Alternative station becomes an FM repeater for an AM talker…
By Paul Marszalek
To the surprise of no radio professional, Audacy is soon killing off New York Alternative station Alt 92.3 in favor of a simulcast of news station 1010 WINS.
The only two questions are: What took them so long, and why didn’t they let another programmer have a shot at it?
In February, 2021, I shouted into the void that the Alt format was is very significant trouble, predicting that San Francisco’s Alt 105.3, New York’s Alt 92.3, and even the legendary KROQ were not long for this world. While the Alt community circled the wagons in defense, turns out only Kevin Weatherly will prevent me from going 3 for 3.
Alt 92.3 was a not very good radio station. At times, particularly when it was airing Machine Gun Kelly as a format, it was simply bad. Tinkering with flash-in-the-pan Tik Tok artists, piping in mid-grade, out-of-market talent, and targeting a wildly diverse 18-34 demographic with a SoCal-heavy sound was never going to add up to much in New York City.
Alt 92.3, right up to its dying day, managed a weekly audience of just under 1 million people. But the listening share was a measly 1.2.
What this meant was that a lot of people were trying to listen to Alt 92.3, but they just didn’t like the product. It’s not any different from people walking into The Gap, then leaving without buying much of anything.
In radio, this is usually a very fixable problem, but Audacy, for reasons unknown, just never took substantial action.
As to why would Audacy use the 92.3 FM frequency as a repeater? As referenced in this space before, news and sports-talk stations can be powerhouses as they offer localism and often high-end talent. At the same time, the AM band has become a bad neighborhood, full of wing-nuts and hate-mongers. Add to this the fact that electric vehicles are eliminating AM radio from their dashboards due to electrical interference from their engines. Protecting these news and sports-talk brands is becoming paramount, so expect more talk on FM.
What you might hear radio execs say is that Alternative doesn’t work in New York. Not true. The format could and should do well. Alt 92.3’s demise was all about execution errors and failing to target the correct demo.