POTSDAM - Listeners tuning into 99 Hits on Friday morning looking for Conway Twitty, George Strait and Garth Brooks instead found Prince, Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi, as the station kicked off a new era, becoming The Flamethrower B 99.3.
Station Manager John Winter said the change was a decision made by new ownership, Martz Communications, Inc., Denver, and it is one that hes excited about and looking forward to being a part of.
Weve changed the format, he said. Now its Hits of the 80s Music Channel on 99.3.
One of the reasons for the change, he said, was the abundance of country music stations available in the area.
There were five country music stations in this area and it really fragmented the market, he said. We wanted to come in and so something different, something that no one else was doing.
And while there are radio stations in the area that play some music from the 80s, there isnt one that plays all 80s, all the time.
There has been a big resurgence in the interests, culture and music of the 80s, and we wanted to be a part of it, Mr. Winter said. Its something that nobody is doing.
The rejuvenated interest in the decade of Ronald Reagen, Mr. T. and Boy George is something that Mr. Winter said will be good not only for the stations listeners, but its advertisers.
We think this will be something the north country will really like, he said. We hope the listeners will like it and we think this will be a benefit to the advertisers as well, because were doing something unique.
Mr. Winter also noted 99 Hits sister station, WPDM,1470 AM, also changed its format and is now CBS Sports, a station that will broadcast local and national sports talk, as well as live events.
Well be doing a lot of local sports on 1470, he said.
Mr. Winter said the station has seven employees and no employees were laid off during the transition.
Everyones coming with us, he said, noting the move from country music to 80s music isnt the only one the station will be making.
We are moving the studio to 5 Beal Street in downtown Potsdam, he said.
That building at one time housed The Courier-Observers Potsdam office and previously served as a bus station.
Weve been renovating down there, he said. We were building studios last week.
Mr. Winter said all of the equipment in the stations new home is new.
Its all new equipment, pretty state of the art stuff, he said. Im hoping to be in there by Wednesday or Thursday next week.
While the station is kicking off with an all music Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Winter said that starting Tuesday Todd Truax will host its daily morning show with Scott Dosztan covering local news and Chris Engle covering sports.
Martz Communications Inc. agreed in January to purchase WSNN, 99 Hits, and WPDM from longtime owners St. Lawrence Radio Inc. The sale was finalized earlier this week.
Both stations had played identical programming in the past, a mix of country music with news and sports programming.
Timothy D. Martz, owner of Martz Communication, said in January the purchase was a logical extension for his company.We thought it was a good investment. Ive been in north country radio for 15 years, he said.
Mr. Martz currently owns four Malone radio stations, along with two stations in Pittsburgh. He used to own four stations that broadcast out of the former WMSA studios in Massena before selling them to Stephens Media Group in 2008.