Playing The Game At 106.5

So, we’re less than a day from the launch of 90s music station “GenX 106.5” in Cleveland.

Or, are we?

We’ve been considering the possibilities, conferring with other radio industry watchers, and thinking about it.

And for us this Sunday, all the chatter we’re hearing about a new “GenX” music format on the former “Mix 106.5” seems…well…almost staged. Planted. It’s TOO perfect.

Maybe folks connected to Oak Tree are “playing the game” with us. (And no, we’re not suggesting that 106.5 will be a sports station called “The Game”.)

Back in the early days of the Internet, broadcasters could openly register new domain names for new formats, and almost no one noticed.

As the online world became mainstream, people like RadioInsight’s Lance Venta and his “Net Gnomes” started snooping for these changes…so stations turned to registering a number of potential names (at just a few bucks a piece) with anonymous registrations.

That could well explain the “1065theLake.com” domain that Lance found. It’s registered to Clear Channel, but currently redirects to the company’s Salt Lake City AC station (“Today’s 106.5”).

The “1065TheLake.com” domain now has a matching Twitter account, currently empty.

Our guess? Oak Tree is playing The Game with us. (And right now, the “Lake” Twitter account has just two followers – your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm) and RadioInsight.)

It’s by far not the first time Clear Channel in Northeast Ohio has tried to get us to bite on a hook or two before a format change.

Remember “101.7 The Bull”?

The folks at Freedom Avenue even launched a very extensive, very fake website before the launch of moved-in WHOF/101.7 from Dover/New Philadelphia, that would match a new country station added to their Akron/Canton cluster.

It even had hints of air staff and other formatic elements, and we bit on the bait…initially

But even back then, we were skeptical.

It was a bit TOO easy.

For one, we’ve been doing this “online detective” work for DECADES.

So, when we got an anonymous E-mail claiming to be from someone in Michigan pointing to the “Bull” site, we looked it up, and as it turns out, the E-mail was sent from Northeast Ohio.

Oops!

We haven’t gotten an anonymous E-mail yet on 106.5’s new format, though believe it or not, Lance Venta points out that “1065theBull.com” is sitting around unused in Clear Channel’s domain name portfolio.

No, it doesn’t forward to a fake country site, and no, we don’t think Clear Channel is mounting a flanker to country powerhouse WGAR/99.5. And the fake 101.7 The Bull domain actually ended up in the hands of another Clear Channel station, KBKB-FM/101.7 in Burlington IA, now owned by Titan Broadcasting…which looks to be very much the country station WHOF never became.

The point is not that this blog or other sites are “powerful”, and influence how stations change format, at least when it comes to online presence.

But OMW is read by quite a few people at, oh, just to point out an example, Cleveland’s CBS Radio cluster…and this is the 2011 version of “getting in the competitors’ heads”.

The audience Oak Tree is going after this week isn’t us, it’s the competition.

What happens at 7:30 on Monday morning?

We are still not betting *against* the “GenX” format. It is all the rage within Clear Channel, and it’d certainly fit with recent flips in places like St. Louis and Columbus.

There’s a decent argument against “GenX”, but it seems evenly weighted with the argument in favor of it.

We’re still discounting a spoken word format, be it a simulcast of talk powerhouse WTAM/1100, a complementary talk format, or an FM sports outlet. We’ve already given numerous reasons why we don’t think that happens.

We’re not discounting a relaunch of the hot AC format, perhaps even under the now-abandoned “Mix” branding.

A note about our earlier talk about “Fresh”, which Clear Channel recently used in its relaunch of AC WNIC/100.3 Detroit as a hot AC station: Lance Venta reminds us that “Fresh” is actually a CBS trademark licensed by Clear Channel in Detroit.

CBS doesn’t compete in the AC arena against Clear Channel, but it most assuredly does (has) in Cleveland. We find it hard to see CBS licensing its own AC brand to a competitor in one of the company’s strongest AC markets.

So, we’ll enjoy the trainwreck segues on 106.5 until 7:30 AM Monday, and we’ll see what happens…

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