Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hard-rock on 102.1: Radio Promotion or Identity Crisis?

By Evan Rytlewski
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When Milwaukee’s alternative-rock station FM 102.1 re-branded itself two years ago, it created buzz by briefly calling itself “Quick 102.1,” and playing only short, familiar passages from popular songs. It was a funny stunt, and it worked. It had people talking about a station many had abandoned years ago.

It’s hard to tell whether the station was attempting a similar fake-out this Memorial Day weekend, when it added a smattering of hard-rock to its playlist. Between all the Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith, the station sounded more like its neighbor to the right of the dial, 102.9 The Hog.

If it was a stunt, it was a crappy one, not nearly as bold as the “Quick 102.1” promotion. Let’s hope it was a failed joke, though, and not a sign of another identity crisis at the station. Like every other commercial station in the city—save, perhaps, for Jammin’ 98.3, the adult urban station—WLUM 102.1 would benefit from broadening its playlist, but integrating overplayed hard-rock is not the way to do it. Stick to the "All Things Alternative" weekends, guys.

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