Out to sea

I did one actual Vent (#541) during World Tour ’07, and one paragraph therefrom has come back to haunt me:

Commercial radio is in a sadder state than I thought. One of the few things I’ve heard that was at all worthwhile was a program by Jim “The Critic” Voight on Charleston’s WAVF (“96 Wave”) on Sunday morning. The Critic’s choices were interesting enough; more to the point, he was willing to defend them against potential audience complaints. Then again, this was a Sunday-morning show, and nothing in the station’s regular playlist makes me think that this is anything other than a weekend anomaly, and that the station normally doesn’t sound like that at all. (In their defense, it’s better than anything I’m likely to hear on Oklahoma City radio.)

And now 96 Wave is history. From Lou Pickney’s VarietyHits.com:

Heritage rock station 96 Wave (96.1 WAVF) in Charleston, SC abruptly dropped modern rock (and, presumably, the incumbent “Free Beer and Hot Wings” syndicated morning show) at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday 8/31/2007 to go Variety Hits as 96.1 Chuck FM. The station is streaming live as of this writing from the old 96 Wave website.

In its 22+ year existence, 96 Wave maintained a rock format. WAVF signed on with an Album Oriented Rock format in March 1985 as 96 Wave following a week of stunting with ocean wave sounds.

With the alternative rock format that swept the United States in the early 1990s, the station shifted from the dying AOR format to the growing alternative (also known as modern rock) format in 1993, though it kept the established 96 Wave name.

The last song played on 96 Wave prior to the flip was “My Wave” by Soundgarden. The first song played on Chuck FM was “Take This Job And Shove It” by Johnny Paycheck. According to radio-online.com, 96 Wave program director Lance Hale will remain with the new station in the same role.

What’s weird about this is that Chuck FM will apparently be leaving Chucktown:

[T]he station is slated to change its city of license from Hanahan, SC [in Berkeley County just beyond North Charleston] to Forestbrook, SC and drop its massive class C signal (100,000 watts from a height of 1777′) to go to a C2 status at 26,000 watts from a height of only 492′, and in the process lose its coverage of Charleston (moving to cover the Myrtle Beach, SC market).

Pickney speculates that this is a temporary move while a multiplicity of stations are shuffled, and the result will be something like this:

My guess: the 96.1 Chuck FM format will end up on on 101.7 (with the WKZQ-FM [Myrtle Beach] rock format moving to 96.1 FM when the switch happens), as Apex [owner of WAVF] will get the 101.7 license and NextMedia will obtain 96.1 after the swap. It is more complex than that, but for the purpose of analyzing the move, it suffices.

Who loses in this shuffle? Bamberg’s WWBD is moving from that city to the Isle of Palms, east of Charleston, about 90 miles away, but, says its owner, Bamberg/Orangeburg loses nothing in the deal:

Harold Miller, Miller Communications president and CEO, said the transition is aimed at improving the company’s and other radio broadcasters’ and groups’ facilities and stations.

“If approved, in time Miller will reach an opportunity to dramatically improve several of its stations,” Miller said. “The Bad Dog format will not leave Orangeburg. Miller Communications would be foolish to remove a format that the people have demanded be there. There are no plans to take Bad Dog out of Orangeburg.”

Which suggests to me that WNKT St George, which is moving to Eastover in this deal, presumably close enough to Orangeburg, will take over the Bad Dog format. Definitely a change from Cat Country.

On the other hand, I have to agree with former WWBD owner Vic Whetstone:

“It is not my baby anymore, but it was my baby,” Whetstone said. “Me and my staff, we operated a community station. We were so much a part of the community and promoting so many things. Unfortunately, this is not the way it is anymore.”

As I wrote in Vent #103 in 1998:

What do Pryor, Henryetta, Okmulgee and Muskogee have in common? Yes, they’re all towns in Oklahoma, but more specifically, they are towns in Oklahoma who used to have local FM service. Oh, the stations are still there, sort of. But the owners, visions of bigger bucks dancing in their heads, relocated the transmitting facilities to be closer to the Tulsa metropolitan area, where they could go after big-city audiences while still paying lip service to the communities to which they are licensed.

If anything, this process seems to have accelerated in the nine years since.


  1. ms7168 »

    2 September 2007 · 9:38 pm

    I’m listening to “CHUCK” as I write this. Sounds a lot like “JACK” to me but that’s OK. At any rate it is certainly aimed at us.

    I fully understand and agree with your Vent on the whole mess. Commercial radio has never been in such a poor state as far as I’m concerned.

  2. P.Oed listener »

    3 September 2007 · 7:36 pm

    96 Wave has turned to 96 gay. I can’t believe APEX decided to pull the plug on them. 96 wave has been going long and strong and now this new “Chuck FM” is here and I don’t think many listeners are gonna be happy. I, for one, am boycotting 96.1 for another station, probably 98x until APEX comes to their senses

  3. CGHill »

    3 September 2007 · 9:31 pm

    You know, if it really was “96 Gay,” it might have gone over better.

  4. Chooch »

    10 September 2007 · 9:51 pm

    96Wave will surely be missed…

    This ends the last great station to really PUSH local music.

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