November 11, 2009

Atlanta Remember 97.1 Jamz? It's Back!

Back in 2003 Cox Radio came up with an idea of drawing ratings from Radio One's urban station WHTA Hot 97.5 that featured Ryan Cameron in the morning. Since then Hot has moved to 107.9 and Praise was on at 97.5 but now it's on 102.5 in Atlanta (it's so confusing). But at the time mainstream listeners were upset that their beloved oldies station "The Fox" (WFOX) was gone.

Cox decided to go with an urban station that played uptempo music from the 80's, 90's and Today. This innovative format idea was definitely a different approach. They wanted to program an Urban station that would protect the ratings for its Urban AC Kiss 104.1 (WALR) while at the same time pull numbers away from Radio One’s Urban WHTA.

What Cox thought would happen never really worked. 97.1 Jamz hung around until January 1, 2006 when it switch over to a Soft Rock format known as "The River".

The thing that led to the station's death and low ratings was Cox Radio's refusal to use any personalities. There was a "Street Team" that did occasional on-air live remotes, but no DJ's in the studio on the mic. What a shame. The format was a good alternative to the extremes that exist in music playlists on Urban vs. Urban AC radio today.

Now the format is back... The 97.1 Jamz format is today's Rhythmic AC format. Take a listen to Clear Channel's 106.7 The Beat of Detroit or Atlanta's Groove 105.7. It's nothing more than 97.1 Jamz with less of an urban edge and more Lady GaGa mixed in.

If you haven't noticed urban formats are disappearing across the country (100.3 The Beat KATZ FM in St. Louis and WAMO in Pittsburgh) because of the PPM ratings system. Urban formats simply do not score high in PPM. It's time for Urban radio programmers to try a format like 97.1 Jamz to make themselves more friendly to the PPM electronic ratings system and to mainstream audiences. It would be a bold move but it could mean urban radio's very survival.

Take a listen to 97.1 Jamz as it hit the airwaves in 2003. Listen

courtesy of format change.com


  1. This story is too confusing. It says, "Cox decided to go with an urban station that played uptempo music from the 80's, 90's and Today". Then it says, "Now the format is back...It's nothing more than 97.1 Jamz with less of an urban edge and more Lady GaGa mixed in". WTH? 97.1 played urban music, the new formats play "less"? The comparison doesn't make any sense.

  2. The comparison makes sense. The rhythmic AC format is like 97.1 Jamz because they are playing music from the 80's, 90's and today. For every 10 songs they play I would say at least 6 songs would have been played on 97.1 Jamz. Take a listen to Groove 105.7. They have taken the formula and applied it to appeal to white listeners. Very smart.


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