Syracuse's "Big Talker" Flips to Rock as "105.9 The Rebel"

January 6, 2012 by

Updated 1:10pm -- SYRACUSE -- There's another choice for rock radio in Central New York.  Cumulus Media killed "105.9 The Big Talker" this morning... and after a few hours of stunting, "105.9 The Rebel" launched at 1:05pm.  Cumulus Ops Manager Tom Mitchell says the station was inspired by "hundreds of rock music fans throughout Central New York, who kept telling us that they were tired of hearing the same 150 classic tracks over and over."

The first indication of a change came right after the syndicated Bob and Tom Show ended this morning, when the station started playing non-stop TV theme songs -- the same stunting which happened in 2010 when the station flipped from AC-formatted Lite Rock 105.9 (then WLTI) to the "Big Talker" format.

Mitchell says the station will retain Bob & Tom for morning drive.  No jocks through other dayparts yet, but Mitchell says he "but plans to add them soon."  Hunter Scott is programming the station, adding to his existing duties as PD and morning co-host of Cumulus active rocker 95X (WAQX).

Here's the full press release from Cumulus:

The Rebel Rocks at 105.9 FM

Cumulus Syracuse Operations Manager Tom Mitchell today announced the launch of a new radio station, 105.9 The Rebel (WXTL.) “We talked to hundreds of rock music fans throughout Central New York, who kept telling us that they were tired of hearing the same 150 classic tracks over and over,” said Mitchell.

“We’re giving central New York a new and different choice for rock, with deeper album cuts and true variety. If you’re a fan of Aerosmith, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Stevie Ray Vaughan, U2, Yes, The Police, ZZ Top, and Talking Heads, you know they each have more than 2 or 3 great songs. You’ll hear the difference and love The Rebel 105.9.”

Shane Bogardus, Cumulus Syracuse Market Manager said: “Today we made a very exciting move to deliver the attitude and free spirit that inspired some of history's greatest music. Though we are truly proud of the station and content we brought daily to the area with the Big Talker, we have found our groove with the launch of this new station.

“The music will defy the homogenized play list of today's classic rock station and reintroduce the energy that sparked a revolution by those once seen as societies REBELS. We know those listeners still work and play right here in Syracuse and this station is for them! 105.9 The Rebel. More to come at”

105.9 The Rebel will continue to air the Bob & Tom morning show, 7 days a week 5-10am. The station launched without air personalities in the other dayparts, but plans to add them soon. Program Director for the station is Hunter Scott, who also programs Active Rock 95X (WAQX Syracuse.)

Thanks to readers who emailed us when they noticed the TV theme stunting this morning, and also to, who noticed our report and then discovered that Cumulus Media had registered internet domains and

11 comments on “Syracuse's "Big Talker" Flips to Rock as "105.9 The Rebel"”

  1. Wasn't a big fan of the talk format although I just found Red Eye Radio that used to be on from 1am til 5am and really liked it. So I check out their new format where they aren't going to play the "homogenized" list of classic rock and Neil Young's Rockin in the Free World is on. I guess they lied about that.

    Goodbye Big Talker and 105.9 with your crappy new format. It was nice knowing ya

  2. This is a travesty. The only station on CNY radio that promoted intelligence over the "bumper sticker quote" mentality of our current media driven world has been sacrificed for YET ANOTHER classic rock station. Guess what? We've heard Billy Idol before. Led Zepplin? Yeah, we've got them on our ipods. God forbid that you actually promote a dialogue between progressive and intelligent individuals in this town that God forgot. This is exactly like the Wegmans/Alec Baldwin ad. A few people complain that they get offended by progressives and liberals and want more mindless noise, sayonara intelligent radio. Cumulus is a money hungry corporation only interested in making another dollar. Sad to say that's what the American dream has become. Now I have no reason to turn on the radio in my car.

  3. Cumulus strikes again! They moved Stephanie Miller out of her morning time slot to evenings for the idiotic Glenn Beck show in San Francisco.

    Now they yank her off the air totally here in Syracuse. And this so Cumulus can have 2 rock stations in Syracuse??? The logic escapes me.

    Michael Smerconish & Stephanie Miller were two of the best things that happened to Central NY Radio in a long time, and now they're both gone. I remember how Smerconish on his show over the fall gushed about his great ratings in Syracuse, he was so happy. And Stephanie Miller brought her sexy liberal show to the Salt City last May!!

    I hope another outlet can step in otherwise, it's finally off to XM/Sirius radio.

  4. I look at it as, they didn't succeed without Gary Nolan while trying to thumb their nose at Clearchannel and Leatherstocking's talk stations, so now they're going to thumb their nose at Galaxy's classic rock station - and in a way at themselves across the hall at 95X, too. Huh? I suppose there's a hole for it though, if you look at old books back when WOUR wasn't owned by Galaxy, and both it and Galaxys old 107.3 rocker were making a small to medium dent in the Syracuse ratings books.

    But I honestly haven't listened to WXTL since Nolan left. Stephanie Miller? Crap-o-rama. Dave Ramsey is okay, but with Reith gone there's no reason to turn off WSYR (and until September my alternate destination was WFBL anyways). Mark Levin? Can't stand his voice or his bashing of other hosts.

    Stations like this that are only getting like a 1, 1.5 share in the books for years on end are going to keep flipping looking for some kind of niche that probably is not out there. I'm not sure Syracuse needs three (four, if you count the crap on whatever the new rock station is, I can't even remember the name or the call letters right now) rock stations any more than it needed three talk stations. But if they really do play a bigger variety of music instead of the same old, same old, same old - and hire Dave Frisina back - they might have something. If they can go from the 1.5 or so tops in the books up to a 3 or 4, they've succeeded.

    I've listened to CDs for years when I wanted to hear music because 95% of the time when you put on TK99 you get the same say top 5 or 10 songs by an artist, like the top 40 or 50 rock songs from each year for about 1970 to about 1995. And when a classic artist comes out with a new CD, it gets play for a few months, maybe a year, then dissapears into the ether too. You can see more obscure stuff by watching VH1 classic than by turning on the radio these days.

    I've always thought, though, that the niche no one is filling is one station where I can hear Hank Jr., Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Brooks & Dunn, Metallica, Shooter Jennings, AC/DC, etc. - a format that plays the best in rock and the best in rockin' country along side it. That station, with long music blocks, and I wouldn't need the CD player.

  5. Why couldn't they just play better music on 95x? This is such a lame move :( Stephanie Miler was awesome. At least there's Internet radio.

  6. this is so freaking dumb the only talk radio station with brains has been taking off the air and replaced with classic rock wow you guy's are really freaking stupid if we want classic rock we will listsen to our Ipods or Cds or Pandora!! you had somthing that was growing and just blew it. I hope your new format of yet another mindless rock station works out for you tools!!

  7. Why did they change? turns out I was being kind... not even a 1 share in any of the last four Eastlan ratings books, see the article elsewhere on this site. Let me spell it out for you - WXTL is a business, folks, not a charity for the half dozen people who want to listen to the nonsense that is Stephanie Miller. The purpose of a business is to make a profit for it's owner. Radio stations profit by selling commercial airtime. The better the ratings the more money the airtime can be sold for. At a 0.8 share (down a point from the spring, at that, so not growing in the least) you just about have to pay people to run commercials - if WXTL wasn't owned by Citadel in a cluster with two more viable stations, it probably would be off the air entirely. Obviously almost no one wants to listen to Stephanie Miller - those that do can sign up for I heart radio or something.

    The only thing that will continue to hurt WXTL in ratings growth is it has a slightly smaller range than TK99 or even 95X.

  8. Syracuse has enough lousy music without adding to it. Why not fix what's broken on your other channel 95X? Someone needs to provide a little intelligent radio for those that choose not to listen to lousy music canned or otherwise.

  9. I think that it is a shame that we can't balance out the rabid Right Wing nuttery on WSYR! The wishy-washy approach of The Big Talker lead many Progressives to just stream their favorite Progressive talkers! That's terrible because now you've lost someone as funny and intelligent as Stephanie Miller, and you won't have Someone to give voice to your feelings like Ed Schultz!

    Cumulus - The Purveyor of Rush Limbaugh, ought to be ashamed of themselves! Syracuse is not Cumulus! Cumulus is not Syracuse!

    1. It's not my place to take sides on which talk show hosts are better or worse than others, but I wanted to point out that Cumulus is not "the purveyor of Rush Limbaugh." His show is syndicated by Premiere Networks, which is owned by Clear Channel, the same company which owns WSYR, which happens to be the local Limbaugh affiliate.

      If the purpose of your comment was instead to complain about Cumulus terminating "The Big Talker" in favor of the current format on 105.9FM, it might be worth noting the latest Syracuse radio ratings. You have to scroll pretty far down that list to find WXTL -- beyond the other talk stations in Syracuse, and even beyond some out-of-market stations. Even though Cumulus never officially stated low ratings as the reason for the change, few radio stations will stick with a format that generates only a fraction of a single share point time and time again.


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