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Once upon a time, there was a radio
station in Detroit at 106.7 with some memorable
call letters: WWWW.
published June 21, 2018:
The station was nicknamed W4 and until 1981
carried a rock format. As a matter of fact, Howard
Stern handled mornings there. Of course, if you've
seen Private Parts, you know the story. The
ratings sucked, the station flipped to country and
Howard moved to Washington, DC.
For years, W4 was the top country station in the
Motor City. It consistently beat country upstart
WYCD in the ratings. W4 did quite well. But then,
Alice came to town.
On September 3, 1999, WWWW flipped to the
weirdly-named format known as rock AC and it
became Alice 106.7. The ratings tanked while WYCD
took away their former listeners. Alice finally
died in 2002, being replaced with classic rocker
In the 16 years since, 106.7 in Detroit has been
the home of failed format after failed format. It
seemed that it changed format every year or two or
even less. It even flipped back to country in 2006
as The Fox, but the ratings were in the shitter.
In 2009, after playing "Shutting Detroit Down" by
John Rich, they flipped to rhythmic AC as The
Beat. Ratings were OK, though it hurt sister
station WKQI/Channel 955. In 2012, it flipped back
to classic rock as The D.
Now, 106.7 in Detroit is a format it hasn't tried
before: alternative. And, whad'ya know? The
ratings suck. In the six months it's been on the
air, the station has never been above a 1.7 share.
Supposedly, alternative is the hot format of the
day. But the sad reality is that well, it isn't.
True, there are a few alternative stations that do
well in the ratings (i.e. KROQ Los Angeles), but
for the most part, alt-rock is a ratings dud.
Before Alt 106.7's arrival, Windsor's 89X was
Detroit's de facto alternative station. Yet, they
couldn't muster a two share in the ratings. Oddly
enough, after Alt 106.7's arrival, 89X flipped to
a harder rock format. It's hard to tell how
they're doing in the ratings now since they're
focused more on Windsor now.
Other than Alt 106.7, Michigan only has two other
alt-rockers: Kalamazoo's Z96.5 and Battle Creek's
104.9 The Edge. Z96.5 does OK in the ratings, but
that's because Kalamazoo's other rock stations
sadly suck. The Edge, however, is on Q106's turf.
With the exception of some butt rock tunes here
and there and the fact that they carry Bob and
Tom, Q106 ain't too bad of a station.
Michigan used to have plenty of alternative
stations to choose from, even here in Grand
Rapids. WGRD was alternative for a decade and a
half until 2010. As an active rocker, their
ratings have been pretty good. Up north, there was
The Zone. From 1998 to 2000, they were a wuss
station, avoiding most harder rock. However,
thanks to new program director Kimberly Fox, she
cleaned out the Matchbox 20, Jewel and Paula Cole
(is she still alive?) and bands like Slipknot,
Rage Against the Machine and Disturbed were in.
The result: they ended up being neck-and-neck with
KLT in the ratings. Now as Rock 105 and 95-5, they
are reportedly STILL neck-and-neck with KLT.
Let's not forget that Lansing had two incarnations
of The Edge. The last time around, their ratings
were OK for being in a college town and all, but
it was still blown up for classic country.
So, why is Alt 106.7 a dud? Simple: alternative
rock in general, well, sucks. Most alt-rock
stations are very wussy-sounding these days. Some
of it's very slow and just too damn folksy. Plus,
many of the bands that represent alt-rock nowadays
won't be around much longer. Remember Fun.? They
only released one album and then they broke up.
The truth is that a regular, mainstream active
rocker does way better in the ratings. WRIF is
beating Alt 106.7 by leaps and bounds. Yet the
problem is that record labels are overhyping wuss
bands simply because it reaches a younger
audience. OK, so why are bands like Ghost and Five
Finger Death Punch outselling the likes of regular
CHR artists like Dua Lipa, Halsey and even
Kendrick Lamar? The simple truth is that there is
a market for great, kickass rock 'n roll but the
record companies all have their heads up their
asses. Because of that, we have shit stations like
Let's also not forget that Alt's morning show,
Woody is tape-delayed one day out of Los Angeles.
Much of Alt 106.7's air talent is voicetracked out
of other markets. WRIF, however has a local
morning show that gets good numbers.
Question is, how long will it last? Remember, the
average lifespan of a format on 106.7 in Detroit
is maybe two years tops.
There's a reason why it's called alternative. It's
an alternative... to ratings.
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