New York has a new urban radio station. Cumulus is making a long-shot bet by launching an urban station out of Westchester-based WFAS (103.9 FM), featuring two well-known personalities anchoring morning and afternoon. Radio 103.9, which broadcasts from the Westchester area and has long had the call letters WFAS, launched the new format July 7. Cumulus, says its signal reaches 80% of the New York area.
Radio 103.9, has Tom Joyner’s syndicated show in the morning 6 a.m. to 10 a.m and D.L. Hughley’s syndicated show in the afternoon 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Joyner, the syndicated host who did two stints as morning host on the late Kiss-FM, has never made any secret of his desire to have his show heard in New York and it also could rekindle his sometimes-friendly rivalry with fellow syndicated morning host Steve Harvey on WBLS-107.5 FM.
Comedian D.L. Hughley, who also was heard years ago on WRKS, will be the syndicated afternoon drive host. Sharon “LaLoca” Montero will come up from Orlando to do middays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Marc Clarke from Washington will host “Hanging Downtown” in the evenings. Montero and Clarke will be local, not syndicated.
Radio 103.9 reverses the recent shrinkage of urban stations in New York after WRKS was folded into WBLS and WWRL switched to a Hispanic format. WBLS, which now has the adult urban market all to itself, has become one of the top two or three stations in the city. There have been complaints that community voices are now rarely heard on commercial broadcast radio, however, and Cumulus is promising the new station will address that.
A statement from Cumulus says Radio 103.9 “will include a heavy focus on community engagement, with the station’s on-air talent participating in local events and collaborating with leading community service organizations.”
In theory, it sounds good. The problem is getting city listeners to switch to or even sample a station they don’t know. Radio listeners are notoriously loyal to their favorite spot on the dial, and 103.9 FM isn’t on the radar for most city listeners. In the last Nielsen ratings, WFAS averaged 0.3% of the metro audience, putting it in 45th place.
The new format was unveiled Wednesday night, June 25 with a party at Sylvia’s in Harlem. “New York is the greatest city in the world and the radio programmers and personalities that came before me are a part my philosophy on radio today,” said Ken Johnson, Program Director of “Radio 103.9.” “The only thing greater than my love for New York radio is my respect for its listeners.”
New Line Up
6am – 10am: “The Tom Joyner Morning Show”
10am – 3pm: “LaLoca”
3pm – 7pm: “The D.L. Hughley Show”
7pm – 12am: “Hanging Downtown”