(UPDATE 4/2/08 - GM confirmation in Comments area)
Aircheck collectors be on alert! Several sources indicate Buckley Broadcasting's Syracuse stations, WSEN (92.1 FM / 1050 AM) and WFBL (1390 AM), will be flipping formats this coming Monday. The changes may not seem too dramatic at WSEN, but it's a pretty big change for WFBL, which will be abandoning its news/talk format.
We're told the station hasn't formally announced the changes yet, but Buckley GM Judy Kelly reportedly mentioned the news while addressing the Central New York Car Club Association earlier this month, and the CNYCCA included it in the online version of their meeting minutes. Although our request for comment from PD Jim Tate went unanswered, we've since heard from other sources who concur.
WFBL Abandoning News/Talk
No thanks to Arbitron's embargo on Syracuse, we can't say for sure if ratings were a factor here... but WFBL is ending its news/talk format. WFBL aimed to counter WSYR's lineup with personalities like Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Savage's "Savage Nation." Local news updates have been provided by WTVH-TV personalities. So, for you aircheck collectors out there, your last chance to get weekday personalities and legal IDs would be this Friday, and then you've got the weekend for anything else.
Starting Monday, WFBL will be playing music from the 50s and 60s. We're told Bob Brown will host morning drive, and broadcasting icon Ryan Seacrest's long lost cousin Ryan Seagate will handle the rest of the day. (For those of you who clicked the link and are now groaning... sorry, we just couldn't resist the corny joke.) No word yet on what kinds of specialty programming might be used on weekends.
WSEN Tweaks Playlist, Branding
With WFBL inheriting the 50s and 60s portion of the music library, WSEN will modernize its own playlist, concentrating on only the tail end of the 60s, all of the 70s, and the first half of the 80s. And, in an apparent move to attract listeners who refuse to admit they're old enough to listen to an "Oldies" station, WSEN will begin branding itself as "Classic Hits."
We haven't heard any mention of air talent lineup changes -- but we also don't expect any since this seems to be more of a re-imaging, rather than a full-blown format change.
We're also not sure what the exact timing will be for the changes. Midnight? Morning drive? Both at the same time, or staggered? We'll find out come Monday.