Entercom Launches New Urban WKAF (The New 97.7) In Boston
January 5, 2017
In a move to provide the only full-signal, Urban radio format to America’s 10th largest market, Entercom Communications today announced the debut of The New 97.7, Boston’s #1 For R&B. Since 2006, the frequency had been simulcast with the company’s heritage rock station, WAAF 107.3FM, but delivered little appreciable audience beyond the primary station’s booming signal. The present WKAF call letters will remain for The New 97.7 which ends its simulcast with WAAF today at 11:00AM.
Leading the venture is Program Director Chris Malone, recruited from Cumulus Media’s WRBO and WKIM in Memphis. He’s joined in the new station’s brain trust by Urban radio veteran and consultant Jay Dixon, KBLX/KRBQ San Francisco Director of Programming and Operations Elroy Smith, and Sean Ross, VP of Music and Programming, Edison Research. The New 97.7 will launch with 10,000 songs-in-a-row affording listeners a chance to experience the full breadth of the station’s deep playlist for weeks without interruption.
Entercom New England VP/Market Manager Phil Zachary says, "The New 97.7 fills a massive void for an underserved market. “Boston has a higher concentration of African-American consumers than San Francisco or Los Angeles,” he said, “but no rated Urban signals. The prospect of reaching almost 8% of the population with one radio station in a Top-10 market is almost inconceivable in 2017.”
Malone has been working off-site to prepare the launch and says Boston is long overdue for a station targeting adult Urban listeners. “Urban AC is the most listened-to radio format among African-American consumers in Nielsen’s metered markets, so we expect the audience response to be emotional and immediate. Entercom has given us the research, the talent budget and the marketing resources to become an instant contender with Adults 25 to 54.” Malone says his immediate priority is hiring a local air staff.