The past few days, what started as a social media campaign to save the “Cleveland’s Sound” alt-rock format at Murray Hill Broadcasting’s WLFM-LP 87.7 made it to the station’s website.
“We’ve listened and appreciate the overwhelming passion that has been shown this past week,” it stated.
“The bottom line is the advertiser passion and commitment for 87.7 has not been there, resulting in the partners losing many hundreds of thousands of dollars,” according to the statement. “We invite you to reach out to NE Ohio businesses to support 87.7 Cleveland’s Sound as an advertiser or promotional partner. Advertisers are looking for awareness and sales results that we can deliver. FACT is the last thing the partners want to do is change directions. We assure you no one is taking their money to ‘South Beach’…we’re just trying to survive and keep Cleveland’s Sound on-air for all of us.”
Later in the day on Tuesday, the link (which still contains “save-our-sound” in the URL) led to a much different message, under the heading “Thank You Cleveland”:
Thank you for all the support and love you’ve shown us. It was incredible to see how much we meant to this city.
We hope you’ll help us go out with a bang, help us give back to this great city one last time, and give to those in need during the holiday season. Below is a list of local restaurant and businesses who worked with us and showed their support for us, all of them will be accepting canned goods on our behalf.
Thank you and happy holidays from the 87.7 Cleveland’s Sound family!
Program director Ryan Benes had told Crain’s that the canned food donations would be a “vote” for not changing the format, an event slated for January 1st…when TSJ Media’s “La Mega 87.7” sets up shop with a bilingual Spanish-English format of Latin music.
Ah, but the original “Save Our Sound” message apparently wasn’t from “ownership” after all, but meant to convince the partners behind Murray Hill Broadcasting – Tom Wilson, Tom Embrescia and Larry Pollock – to cancel the planned station and format change.
Benes talked with Crain’s Park Lazette before things changed:
When asked what he thinks the chances are of saving the alt rock format, Mr. Benes replied, “We do know that the owners and the partners of the station have taken notice. They’ve heard the outcry that people want this station to stay … and we’re doing everything we can to (get them to) reconsider, and as far as we know, it is a possibility.”
Ah, not so much a possibility, says Wilson himself in a late afternoon update to the Crain’s article that was originally posted early Tuesday afternoon:
Though he said it’s not uncommon for a startup radio station to be unprofitable and that he has been “just amazed at the passion and the loyalty the listeners had,” longtime radio executive Tom Wilson said “we’re heading in the direction of doing the Spanish format.”
“We have a contract,” noted Mr. Wilson, who launched Cleveland’s Sound in 2012.
And, he added, the station just wasn’t building as fast as he’d hoped.
That “we have a contract” line is something we’ve been telling the station’s social media followers ever since the change for 87.7 was announced…they’d basically have to convince Wilson and his partners to abandon a contract for the LMA to TSJ Media, the Cincinnati-based firm that will be running “La Mega 87.7” in 2014.
It’s all about the money, and despite the following “Cleveland’s Sound” appears to have gained in its time on the air, WLFM is still a commercial radio station…er…TV station acting as a commercial radio station.
For his part, TSJ’s Josh Guttman is staying far away from the controversy. He tells Crain’s he has “zero issue” with the effort to save the alt-rock format that goes away on 87.7 after the ball drops in Times Square:
“I’m not against alternative rock,” Mr. Guttman added. “This isn’t a Hispanic versus alternative rock decision. This is a business decision. We have a thousand people (who liked the new format) on Facebook, and we’re … not even on the air. The bottom line is there is such a great need for this.”
Oh, and speaking of social media – we didn’t realize, while tagging the @877cleveland Twitter account, that the account has officially gone away… as has the current station’s Facebook presence.
Alt-rock on the radio in Cleveland continues for those within the range of low-power translator W256BT/99.1 (or WMMS/100.7’s HD2 sidechannel), Clear Channel’s “99X”.
But those looking for the blend of alt-rock music served up by the folks at the Agora are pretty much out of options.
The updated message continues to carry the list of outlets accepting canned food donations…even though making such donations won’t save the current 87.7 alt-rock format…