No Longer "Free"

A format flip in New York City may have minor, or future, effects on Cleveland.

CBS Radio talk WFNY/92.3 “Free FM” in the Big Apple has dumped the talk format. AllAccess reports that later today, the station will return to its old “K-Rock” slogan and rock format, focusing on 90’s rock and “some currents and 80’s titles”.

At least for now, morning drive team Opie & Anthony – normally shared with XM Satellite Radio – remain in the new “92.3 K-Rock” lineup…staying in mornings on the otherwise rock-formatted station much like not-quite-immediate predecessor Howard Stern did for many years.

How does all this affect Cleveland?

Well, we’ll be scouring for call letter changes, as we’d bet rather heavily that CBS Radio will swipe the station’s historic WXRK calls from Cleveland’s own “92.3 K-Rock” – which took the call letters after their NYC sister station went to “Free FM” talk. Could the Cleveland alt-rocker become “WXTM” again, if only out of convenience?

Programming-wise, there won’t be much fallout here, since O&A – who air in afternoon drive on Cleveland’s “K-Rock” – are still in that contract with CBS.

But, with CBS flipping away from “Free FM” in two large markets – San Francisco’s KIFR/106.9 dumped the format a few days ago for a resurrection of classic hits KFRC – does this mean CBS Radio is cooling on “FM talk”, at least the “hot talk” variety?

We’ve chronicled here persistent rumors that one or two Cleveland FM stations have been sniffing at an FM talk format for at least a year or two.

But wither CBS?

Does the company’s new programming leadership under Dan Mason (the elder, of course, not the former “96-5 Kiss FM” PD) mean a move away from hot talk aimed at young men? Both “Free FM” flips happened after Mason took CBS Radio’s top national programming job.

Does that mean the current WXRK/92.3 here isn’t likely to expand its talk beyond “Rover’s Morning Glory” and O&A?

And this is not really related, but sort of…an item we have heard about that we just can’t find another place for. And in an item about local FM talk, it would seem to fit.

OMW hears from numerous sources that Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7 afternoon driver Maxwell got into quite a tiff with a member of “The Doors” rock band over the legacy of legendary frontman Jim Morrison.

The on-air interview with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek got so heated, we hear, that Maxwell actually left the studio in mid-segment, and got into a tangle or three with roadies out of the studio.

Though much of this gets played up for ratings, we’re told by a mole inside Oak Tree that this one was real, away from the microphone…


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