Jack-FM lands at 105.1
November 17, 2004
Kansas City's newest radio format, “Jack FM,” likes to compare itself to some people's iPods: hundreds of songs from different eras and genres.
There's one other thing that invites comparisons to those personal music players: A month into the switch from E-105's “retro to right now” sound, 105.1 FM does not have disc jockeys.
Might this be something revolutionary in KC radio? A station without DJ patter?
Turns out we don't know Jack.
Mike O'Reilly, Jack FM's program director, says the first DJ will hit the air Nov. 29. By the first of next year, other jocks will be in place, too, possibly including the morning show.
Launching a station without DJs is not uncommon; it takes time to hire people. In Jack FM's case, though, three DJs from E-105 — morning hosts Nycki Pace and Bryan Truta and afternoon host Paige Turner — have been kept on and are standing by. (O'Reilly says former midday guy Jon Anthony is working for other Susquehanna Radio stations including KCMO-AM; nighttime jock Jesse Tack was released.)
Jack FM is taking its time introducing DJs “to maintain the integrity of a new launch,” O'Reilly says. At this point he wants listeners to focus on the music.
The station has been using “sweepers” between songs — taped bits — with an announcer who's either (depending on your point of view) obnoxious or playful. His job seems mainly to reinforce the Jack mantra, “Playing What We Want.” (The Jack FM concept started at stations in Canada.)
Those sweepers include comments from local listeners — pro and con, although mostly pro.
O'Reilly doesn't see a day when local radio will be able to get by without disc jockeys.
“Every station has to have a human element,” he says. And the human element should be local: “It gives listeners more of a connection.”
Chris Taylor, operations manager for Mix 93.3 and Star 102 FM, says he once worked at a Top 40 station in Miami that decided to go without DJs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It didn't last long. Ratings were awful.
“I think iPods are great and the Internet's great and all that, but one thing radio will always have is that local human feel,” Taylor says. “And I don't think that's going to change.”
Speaking of change, O'Reilly is not revealing which shifts Jack's jocks will be working, which could mean the “Nycki and Truta” morning show is history.
“We're building a new station,” O'Reilly says. “We're not repackaging the old one.”