No, it wasn't a stunt, at 11:50 p.m., as the last chords of Pearl Jam "Alive" faded away, Radio One ditched the Modern Rock format on WPLY (Y100)/ Philadelphia and moved it's Rhythmic CHR WPHI (The Beat) from 103.9 to Y100's 100.3 signal. The 103.9 signal immediately began running a loop of five different promos directing listeners to 100.3 The Beat. It's believed "Praise 103.9", a Gospel station, will debut on the old Beat frequency.
Word of the format flip started to leak out this morning when FMQB was first to report that Y100's morning team of Preston & Steve were signing off a day before their scheduled departure date from the station. The duo are headed for crosstown Mainstream Rock outlet WMMR after sitting out a six-month non-compete. Starting at 9 a.m. Thursday (2/24), the air studio was crammed with Y100 staffers giving remembrances of Preston & Steve moments, but there were underlying connotations of something bigger going on than the duo saying goodbye. At one point, Program Director Jim McGuinn asked the morning duo if he could use their aircheck for his resume.
Middayer Bret Hamilton (Y100Bret@aol.com) was on the air from 10 a.m. to noon before he took his turn to say goodbye, saying this was his last airshift and giving out new contact information and pointing listeners to Y100Rocks.com. The station then ran jockless until the near midnight format change.
Afternoon driver Matt Cord and night personality Electra, along with all the part time airstaff have been let go. MD/Marketing Director Dan Fein will be staying on with Radio One's Philadelphia cluster in a marketing role. Some of the promotion staff will be staying on long enough to make sure recent contest winners get their prizes. A scheduled Sonic Session with Interpol has also been cancelled.
This marks the second time that Radio One has killed the Modern Rock format in Philadelphia. Oddly enough, the first was when the company bought "WDRE/Philly" (WIBF, now WPHI 103.9 The Beat) and let the staff go. The WDRE staff later landed at Y100, which Radio One eventually acquired from owner Dan Lerner, and is pretty much the same group of people that Radio One is now letting go again.