Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Bam, the Future of Rock and Roll Looks Bleak

97X, WOXY-FM Oxford, Ohio, has been sold to a Texas company for $5.6 million. The company spokesman indicates over air broadcasting will change format:
According to Stern, the Oxford station plans to continue its format online, while First Broadcasting puts other programming on the frequency.
On woxy.com the news was broken with a bit of confusion:
We're a little stunned ourselves to announce the sale of WOXY to First Broadcasting Investment Partners of Dallas. The FCC approval process takes about three months, so the switch should occur sometime around May 1st. So that's a big change...

But! Our plans are to continue 97X The Future of Rock and Roll right here at woxy.com, including our internet broadcast. Over the next 90 days we'll be looking for sponsors or investors who will enable us to make this site and stream better than ever. We may be the first terrestrial radio station ever to make the full-time jump to the Internet!
Online the Future is bright, but will the airwaves in Oxford fall back into a county or bland pop music fog? Will First Broadcasting own the online station? Will the online station work a special deal with Miami to channel the signal through local cable stations? Will 97X send a feed to any of the satellite radio services? Will 97X survive?

The best independent radio station in America is no more. I think one could call this selling out. I think in fact few could call it anything else, at least not with a straight face. I hope 97X can find a way to grow online and become an even bigger international source of new rock music. I fear, however, for the local radio listeners in the Oxford area.

UPDATE: According to Sledge's Blog which has a copy of the full press release, the sale is only of the over the air station as indicated in this quote from 97X owners:
Balogh comments that "we always envisioned a time when we would separate and sell our local terrestrial broadcast signal and continue to grow our website and Internet broadcast. The Internet has proven to be the perfect environment for a cutting-edge, niche format like ours. We are currently pursuing sponsors and investors for this venture."
That sounds like a better future for the station, more freedom to air what they want, but what will happen with the studios. This sounds like to me that 97X will keep its studios, and the new company will either lease them or build new ones. The may just relay prefab network programming, which kills another local source of information. More McMedia brought to you courtesy of the FCC.

UPDATE#2: Sadgirlseven reports that most of the people at the station are being laid off in three months. If the station continues online with backers, I don't know if that means they might keep their jobs. I will speculate that the new owner will not be hiring them, so unless the online station gets off the ground, they will be gone. That news is horrible. It makes me think of Mrs. Carlson coming in and replace everyone at WKRP with a machine. I don't think that is far from what will happen with the over-the-air station.

UPDATE#3: After a bit more research I believe that at this point the staff situation at 97X is up in the air. The business side of the operation will likely have a different fate than the production side. Sadgirl's information according to what I can decipher is not the whole story.

UPDATE#4: The Hamilton-Journal has a story. Also the Press Release from First Broadcasting.

UPDATE#5: Some 97X history for you, including a historical mp3.

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