Does the new-format WKTI suck? Discuss.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that WKTI 94.5-FM recently changed its format away from “hot contemporary” in favor of a broader, more random playlist of rock and pop hits from 1965-2008. Station owners Journal Broadcast Group slashed the entire WKTI on-air staff and started from the ground up. Why the sudden change of format after 30-plus years?

“Radio listeners in Milwaukee told us they’re tired of the same old songs over and over again and it got to the point where you couldn’t distinguish one station from another. You’ll be able to distinguish this station from the others in Milwaukee and that’s really what the audience was begging for.” – Tom Land, Director of Radio Programming, Journal Broadcast Group.

Fan-Belt contributors Barry R. Garcia and Marco Esquandolas discuss whether or not the new format sucks …

Marco Esquandolas: Have you heard the new WKTI?

Barry R. Garcia: Yeah, it’s called The Lake now.

ME: Did you listen to a lot of WKTI before? Don’t lie.

BRG: Not since when I was riding around in my mom’s car.

ME: I don’t think I ever listened to WKTI.

BRG: You lived in Milwaukee your whole life. You listened to WKTI.

ME: Maybe on the bus in grade school.

BRG: Have you noticed how any time one of the stations “changes” its format, the whole goddammed city starts listening to it? The Lake, The Hog, The Brew …

ME: Apparently. WKTI bumped (102.9-FM) The Hog out of the Top-6 stations saved on my car stereo. It’s working on moving ahead of (96.5-FM) WKLH for the 5-spot.

BRG: Really?

: Imagine 96.5-FM + 102.1-FM + old-school QFM 93.3-FM. Get all the playlists together, hit shuffle. I heard “California Girls” by the Beach Boys, I heard “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen, then “Cool Like That” by Digable Planets in one 15-minute trip. Not bad.

BRG: I love how the tagline is ‘the widest variety of music ever heard on Milwaukee radio,’ but I’ve heard all those songs on multiple stations.

ME: Maybe they play the Bob Seger songs that WKLH doesn’t play.

BRG: I didn’t know such songs existed. Perhaps.

: Well, it’s a lot better playlist than the old WKTI.

BRG: Agreed.

Me: What do you think of the equivalent to iPod Shuffle taking over for on-air personality?*

BRG: Sign of the times. We’re in a whole new world now. The kids are just downloading all their music, playing it through their iPod.

Me: So a Podcast over the airwaves? How po-mo. What does this mean for DJs?

BRG: I like the idea of DJs picking out a song or two that other Podcasters find, and incoporating it into their own set. Then talk about the tracks like an old-school radio disk jockey would.

ME: I like that – but this new format appears to put DJs out of work.

BRG: So do bloggers.

ME: Touche. So does the new-format WKTI suck?

BRG: It doesn’t suck. It’s better than it was. But they’re crazy if they think they’re serious when they say they’re playing songs that aren’t already on Milwaukee radio.

ME: I agree – doesn’t suck. It’s easy to ignore, which I think is what they’re going for. People will put it on as background, that makes it easy to sell to advertisers while cutting down on staff.

: We have a lot to look forward to.

* The Journal Broadcast Group said it plans to eventually feature on-air staff.


2 Responses to “Does the new-format WKTI suck? Discuss.”

  1. Says:

    Hilarious discussion. I’ll have to check this out for myself. But that means I’d have to turn off Dammit.

    Re: “Station owners Journal Broadcast Group slashed the entire WKTI on-air staff.” Would they really do that??? Just kidding!

  2. Joe Lisberg & Tuc Krueger Says:

    I listen to WMSE because it is awesomer, but what WKTI or whatever it is should do is play their exact radio show for 24 hours from 1985 once in a while with commercials, then I’d listen.

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