In the city of Milwaukee's second radio format change in a week, WFMR-FM (106.9) is dumping classical music in favor of the "smooth jazz" that WJZI-FM (93.3) dropped last week.
The move marks a return to the smooth jazz format that the station now known as WFMR said it pioneered in the mid-1990s. The station hit the air in 1995 with a playlist that included David Sanborn, George Benson, Kenny G and Al Jarreau, all of whom will be featured again at the station.
Tom Joerres, president and general manager of WFMR owner Lakefront Communications L.L.C., said the decision by WJZI to drop the smooth jazz format opened the door for WFMR to return to its roots, when it went under the call letters WFMI. WFMI was forced to drop the format in 1997 after WJZI hit the air in 1996 with a noticeably stronger signal.
Last week, WJZI dumped smooth jazz for mainstream adult contemporary format that is expected to attract an "underserved" 35-54 female audience, a WJZI executive said.
Joerres said the format switch, expected to take place Monday night at midnight, will double the station's audience.
He noted that one of Wisconsin Public Radio WHAD's digital channels, which requires a special receiver to pick up, continues to broadcast 24-hour classical music.
The station also said that the Federal Communications Commission recently granted WFMR a construction permit to move its antenna from its original Menomonee Falls location to its studio and tower location on McKinley Avenue in Milwaukee. The move will not only provide high-definition, but broadcasts will be centered in the metropolitan area. The new signal is set to debut in August and will be comparable in Milwaukee to other local radio stations.