Indianapolis radio station sees overnight success after format change

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis radio station is making national headlines for its overnight success.

93.9 The Beat launched last December and since then has been playing old school hip hop and R&B every hour on the hour.

The station, WRWM, has gone through a lot of different format changes, including top 40, talk radio, country, and jazz, but nothing seemed to work with local listeners until now.

Zach Babb, also known as DJ Zakk at 93.9 The Beat, is one of three on-air personalities at the station.

The Royal Center native has been with the station since last November, just one month before the launch.

“People who didn’t necessary listen to radio were back listening to radio. It was just a whirlwind,” said Babb.

The station, formerly known as Indy’s I94 played hot adult contemporary music. The tunes were spinning, but no one was listening. The program director told 24-Hour News 8 that the station finished 15th in ratings. Management knew they had to do something different to retain what’s left of their fan base.

Babb said the station decided to move forward with what they call throwback jams.

“When we say throwbacks, we like to think, you’re bringing back those memories that everybody listening had lived in the past you know?” said Babb. “Whether happy or sad or going through a breakup or that time at the skating rink.”

The music line up now includes Mark Morrison, Naughty By Nature, LL Cool J, Tupac, and The Notorious B.I.G.

Babb said the station initially set up a phone line to get feedback from listeners and became overwhelmed with the response.

“Every day we had to empty it out because it just got maxed out. You know, people just calling in saying they don’t listen to the radio anymore, but this music has brought them back to become a listener,” said Babb. “Keep doing what you’re doing. Indianapolis has needed this for a long time.”

Babb said in addition to getting feedback from listeners, the station also depends on research data.

“You see a lot of this type of format launching around the country, utilizing what we do here by listening and observing what’s going on and taking that and making their own products in other markets across the country,” said Babb.

According to The New York Times article, the station’s audience jumped from 200,000 to 800,000 listeners.

The article reports that 15 other stations in different cities have made the format switch and have already seen similar success.

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