The 99X Follow Post

UPDATE 5/23/12 8:01 PM: Due to Internet routing tables and how they handle last minute changes, some Internet users are getting redirected to the main iHeartRadio page when going to 99XCleveland.com. The newly launched “99X” page can be accessed instead via its “WMMS HD” address (wmms-hd.clearchannel.com) until all the routing catches up over the next day or two…

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As per usual around here, here’s our followup item on a major debut today, the start of Clear Channel Cleveland alt-rocker “99X” (W256BT/99.1 Cleveland, WMMS-HD2/100.7 Cleveland, to be official.)

Clear Channel made the move no one expected them to make.

Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) was by far not alone in expecting Clear Channel to mount a “now on 99.1 FM!” simulcast of talk WTAM/1100 on the 250 watt translator sharing tower space with sister classic hits WMJI/105.7 “Majic 105.7”, after a torturous shift from a not-on-air position at 100.3/Lorain, stopping long just enough for air at a North Ridgeville cell phone tower as 99.7, and finally showing up as 99.1 in Cleveland – give or take one previously rescinded construction permit that came alive again.

(Whew!)

The answer as to how 99.1 became “99X” may lie in something RadioInsight’s domain snooping king Lance Venta brought to our attention in the previous “99X” item.

Quoting Lance’s comment:

99XCleveland.com was registered on September 20, 2011 so apparently this decision was made sometime after 92.3 became The Fan and perhaps changed CC’s plans as I too expected WTAM on 99.1.

By the way, Lance has posted audio of the debut at FormatChange.com, in case you missed it.

One thing is for sure. If CBS Radio alt-rock “Radio 92.3” wasn’t taken to the woodshed on August 29th, and was still around today, there’s no way Clear Channel would mount a competitor to it on a 250 watt translator. It’d be the broadcast definition of insanity.

For that matter, if alt-rock was in the radio programming/LMA plans of Venture Technologies’ WLFM-LP/6, the audio carrier of the LPTV station that will land on top of the FM dial at 87.7, it isn’t now. (See above reference to broadcast insanity, low-power TV analog audio carrier vs. FM translator run by broadcasting giant local division.)

Today, we were in a good position to catch the fringe of the W256BT signal to the south.

In car reception makes it well into Akron, though the signal can get fluttery, at least in the OMW Mobile as you head further south.  Inside is trickier that far south, depending on your radio.

But “99X”, of course, is not aiming for Akron or Summit County at all, despite debuting with a song from Akron’s own Black Keys.

Our best guess puts the areas that would have young listeners most receptive to alt-rock music well within the “99X” strong signal area…places like Ohio City, Tremont, Lakewood and the Cleveland State University campus…will have no trouble picking up 99.1.

It’s taking advantage of the lack of height regulations to sit 238 meters (nearly 800 feet!) above ground on the classic hits WMJI/105.7 tower in Parma, above it on the tower at 344 meters. Even at 250 watts, an antenna height closing in on 800 feet will bring in a signal not far off the range of, say, a full-power class A station at lower height.

Here’s Radio-Locator’s signal map “for entertainment only”, under the previous W259BI calls. We were basically inside the purple “Distant” ring while listening:

The new alt-rocker is heavily promoting its iHeartRadio feed, both on its website and on-air…”on the air in CLE on 99.1, on iHeartRadio everywhere”, assuming those far afield from the signal or commuting to Cleveland State can just pick up the feed on their smartphones or computers.

“99X” is a very easy move for Clear Channel, once they decided to go after the alt-rock audience abandoned by CBS Radio.

We haven’t done an A-B listening test post-debut, but we’ll be surprised if the station isn’t using the Premium Choice “Alt Project” feed it was using when “99X” existed solely on WMMS HD2 and iHeartRadio.  We’d also be surprised if anything is added to that in the future.

Throw in a few new liners for “99X”, and voila! It’s Instant Radio Station, with very little oversight needed by Clear Channel programmer Bo Matthews.  Very much like a WTAM simulcast would have been, eh?

Below is the official Clear Channel release on the debut of “99X”…

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CLEVELAND HAS A NEW RADIO STATION
99X – THE NEW ROCK ALTERNATIVE

Cleveland, Ohio – May 23, 2012 – Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Cleveland announced today the debut of 99X, Cleveland’s New Rock Alternative.  The station broadcasts from the 99.1 FM frequency and hit the airwaves on Wednesday, May 23, at 12:00 p.m. ET.

99X is a simulcast of 100.7 WMMS’s HD2 station and plays the best new rock alternative music.  99X features core alternative artists including The Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Nirvana, and Green Day.  The station will also include artists such as Muse, Jimmy Eat World, Young The Giant, Harvey Danger, Gotye, Imagine Dragons and Airborne Toxic Event.

“99X fills the void in Cleveland radio for a new rock alternative music station,” said Gary Mincer, President and Market Manager, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Cleveland. “Cleveland now has a new alternative voice which we are excited to offer to listeners on-air and to alternative music fans throughout the country on iHeartRadio.”

Fans can listen to 99X, on the station’s website, 99XCleveland.com, as well as on iHeartRadio.com and the iHeartRadio mobile app, Clear Channel’s best-in-class customizable digital listening experience, offering more than 800 of the nation’s most popular live broadcast and digital-only radio stations, plus user-created Custom Stations which provide listeners more songs, better music intelligence, more user control and deeper social media integration, all combined in one free, fully-integrated service.

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7 Responses to The 99X Follow Post

  1. Good coverage of this. Thanks!

  2. contour07 says:

    Clear Channel should have went with a soft AC format on 99.1 since the Cleveland market doesn’t have one anymore. An alt-rock station can easily be found on any college station.

    According to the Radio-Locator map, I just barely make it within the purple line. Reception in my car and on my home receiver is pretty solid tonight. The signal strength meter on my receiver is a hair away from 2. (On a scale of 0 – 5) I was even surprised that my car radio “locked-in” the station while seeking. Not bad for a 250 watt station.

  3. Secondary Editorial Voice (tm) says:

    For what it’s worth, I was able to pick up 99X adequately while in North Ridgeville, gradually becoming stronger while on I-480 crossing into North Olmsted. Evening was a different story – DX skip from WFRO was bad in Rocky River, Westlake and Avon. Didn’t get to drive downtown but would have expected results other listeners were having. It was obviously better to the south and east the further one gets from WFRO’s signal (and where the only major signal 99.1 has to worry about protecting is WMXY/98.9)…

    Personally, if I were trying to attract the college students (in particular CSU) and suburbans, it would probably have been better to place the 99.1 stick on the Terminal Tower or the Rhodes Tower… at least someplace downtown instead of being on the WMJI tower in Parma.

  4. Tom says:

    I tried to tune in this morning, got nothing but a garbled mess on I90 heading west from the Euclid area. It wasn’t until I passed MLK that the signal was acceptable.

  5. Tom Lavery says:

    Such a move happened in Erie with WXKC Classy 100 going HD and adding a second channel to carry CHR. Cumulus now runs the second HD channel on a translator at 104.3 in the City of Erie as “i1043”, taking on 50,000 watt WRTS “Star 104”. Star is very dominant in Erie while i1043 actually has better coverage on HD2 than on its translator. It will be interesting to see if they can put a dent in Star’s numbers.

  6. Whenever I hear or read the term “alternative rock” I always wonder: Alternative to what? It sounds just like all the other FM rockers.

    I don’t know why you expected to hear WTAM on the new station. Why would a “clear channel” (pun intended) blowtorch need a low-power simulcast? If any talker needs the help, it would be WHLO. Yes, I know it blankets the area with two HD2 simulcasts, but seriously, how many people actually own HD radios?

    Is there any room on the dial for another such “translator”? I would like to see WKNR start one and put Munch Bishop on there in addition to flea-power 1540 (whose slogan ought to be, “38 blocks and half of Brooklyn'”).

  7. Yekimi says:

    Ok, I lied. I did listen in again. With no particular place to go, I was riding around in my automobile [sorry, Chuck Berry] and I decided to tune in to see what kind of reception I could get. South end of Barberton, it was fading in and out, but some spots it was booming in like I was right next door to the antenna. Strangely, as I was heading north the reception got worse till at one point it could barely be heard. I heard some “noise” under their signal, whether it was another station trying to come in or just random garbage, I don’t know. Driving along I-76 between Summit & Medina counties, just a lot of fading in and out, basically unlistenable.

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