When DFW radio station KDGE/102.1 FM “The Edge” abruptly dropped its longtime alternative-music format on Wednesday, radio observers began to wonder what was going to take its place.
The answer came at 5 p.m. Thursday — and it’s a temporary one.
After playing Semisonic’s Closing Time on a loop for more than 24 hours (although it seemed like much longer), 102.1 FM played what sounded like an obituary for “The Edge,” which launched in 1989 at 94.5 FM and moved to 102.1 in 2000. The message mentioned artists that the Edge introduced on DFW, such as Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters.
Then there was a brief sketch with “Santa” throwing a switch, which launched “Star 102.1,” a Christmas format. The first song was Wham!’s Last Christmas, which was followed by Jose Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Feliz Navidad was the first song played by rival KLUV/98.7 FM when it launched a Christmas format at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
After Christmas, iHeartMedia announced in a press release, Star 102.1 will switch to a mainstream adult-contemporary format, playing “hits from major artists like Madonna, Maroon 5, Michael Jackson and Kelly Clarkson.”
IHeartMedia also owns KDMX/102.9 “Now,” a “hot” adult contemporary station that skews toward a younger audience. KVIL/103.7 FM plays a similar format.
To recap: Shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, national radio website RadioInsight.com reported that iHeartMedia, had pulled the alternative format after 27 years. About an hour later, in an apparent pre-emptive strike, CBS-owned classic-hits station KLUV went all-Christmas.
The Christmas format has served KLUV well; typically the station that switches to it rules the ratings during the holiday period. Christian station KLTY/94.9 FM usually also switches to a Christmas format around Thanksgiving night.
KLUV has been performing strongly in the Nielsen Audio ratings even during non-holiday months, and doubtless will change back to its classic-hits format when Christmas is over.
The 102.1 The Edge Facebook page is still live, with an announcement posted Wednesday afternoon saying “The sound of the Edge is moving to 97.1 the Eagle,” which is also owned by iHeartMedia. Although Edge artists like Stone Temple Pilots and Sublime were heard on the hard-rock Eagle on Thursday, the station sounded like it was very much maintaining its format (which has long had crossover with Edge) music, and was still playing acts like Ozzy Osbourne and Aerosmith.
There were some indications that after the holidays are over, the Edge might just revert after a long stunt. But industry website AllAccess.com reports that longtime afternoon DJ Jessie Jessup, as well as morning man Atom Smasher (who has only been with the station since April) and his sidekick Shawnda McNeal have been cut in the format change.