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WDAF is taking more music to FM side

August 31, 2003

Guess who's getting a makeover?

The country bumpkin magnet known as 61 Country. That's because the radio station's pending permanent move from 610 AM to 106.5 FM will reduce the rural reach of the country music powerhouse. WDAF has already begun to weed out ag elements and ramp up its music to appeal to a more urban audience.

"The key elements of 61 Country have all been kept," says WDAF honcho Bob Zuroweste. "David Lawrence, Paul Harvey, news and information and country music. But people listen to FM radio more for music than anything else."

Here's what to expect, besides more contemporary music. Zuroweste says some talk shows have moved out of key music listening hours to earlier or later in the day.

Example: 61 Country's Sunday "Outdoor Outlaw" sporting goods show moved from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

"Let's face it, when WDAF put on the Kansas City Royals, (rival country station) KFKF popped champagne bottles," Zuroweste says. "Because people who want to hear country music want to hear country music. Not baseball. So we want to play country music when they want to hear it."

The worst case scenario for some longtime listeners: "We eliminated farm reports," Zuroweste says. "Farm reports appealed to people who live in farming communities. Well, WDAF on AM reached people who live in farming communities. WDAF on FM doesn't reach farming communities."

Zuroweste's bottom line:

"Music radio stations on AM are really kind of extinct. WDAF-AM was probably one of the only top-three AM music stations in America. And a lot of the people we polled said they wouldn't listen to WDAF because it was on AM."

So has Zuroweste been fighting off frazzled, frenzied farmers?

"No," he says. "But they haven't lost the station yet until we stop simulcasting on 610 AM."

And now the rest of the story

One thing that you can count on at the new 61 Country: Paul Harvey's show.

"I tell you what, when we did our research, I said, `Paul Harvey's not going to make it on the new station,' " Zuroweste says. "But Paul Harvey's huge. I was blown away by his popularity. He was even bigger than David Lawrence."