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Philly Radio Station Tries to Save The Music
By: Chad | Source: Radio and Records Online
February 25, 2005 3:29PM EST

The City of Brotherly Love is now the largest market without an Alternative station after station owners Radio One flipped their 100.3 frequency to Urban.  The frequency was formerly occupied by Y100, a 12 year old alternative station that has been well respected throughout the country as one of the leading alternative stations.  Radio One apparently decided to move their Urban/Hip-Hop station WPHI (103.9 The Beat) to the stronger signal on 100.3, and change the 103.9 frequency to Gospel, which they plan to have complete by this weekend.

The entire Y100 airstaff was let go, but they were allowed to direct listeners to, which features a webcast echoing the Y100 programming and a petition to have Radio One bring the Alternative format back.  In the first 24 hours, 11,000 signatures were gathered (temporarily overloading the system). "I get an e-mail every time someone goes to that station," former Y100 Program Director Jim McGuinn says, "And I'm getting like 15 e-mails every five minutes. It's insane."

McGuinn, having an inkling that Thursday would be Y100's last day, specially programmed the final hours of the evening. The last song was "Alive" by Pearl Jam, although Radio One personnel saw fit to replace the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash with 3 Days Grace and Evanescence.

Ironically, Radio One entered the market when they purchased the McGuinn-programmed Alternative WDRE in 1997 and flipped it to Urban. "Then," McGuinn recalls, "a bunch of us went to Y100, which was at the time owned by Dan Lerner. In 2000, he happened to sell it to Radio One. Radio One at that point left us alone because our station was cash-flowing a ton."

Radio insiders in the Philadelphia area say that Radio One was forced to make a move after the station had failed to capture a large enough demographic and ratings were slipping.  However, nationally, alternative radio stations have seen a recent upturn in ratings in the new year, and a downturn in Urban/Hip-Hop ratings.  There's no saying whether Radio One's decision was based on business or personal agenda, but with the company's history, its hard to believe that there isn't more to this story.

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