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After 89X folds, 98.7 abruptly switches to alternative rock format


Move comes suddenly after 89X folds after three decades on Detroit radio dial

Adam Graham   | The Detroit News

Detroit radio listeners upset about CIMX-FM's (88.7) switchover to country music can find some comfort a little bit further down the radio dial.

WDZH-FM (98.7), which had been calling itself "The Breeze" and playing an easy listening format — and, for the holidays, all Christmas music — switched to ALT 98.7 at noon on Thursday, playing songs by the Killers, Fall Out Boy, Nirvana and more. 

"ALT 98.7FM will reach and engages modern music’s most passionate fans, playing a unique and customized music mix that will include today’s best alternative artists and alt classics," the station said in an announcement Thursday.

The Entercom-owned station touted artists such as the White Stripes, Cage the Elephant, Imagine Dragons and the Black Keys in a press release. 

The switch came after a whirlwind 18-hour turnaround, says Debbie Kenyon, Entercom's market manager and senior vice president. The company had been looking to bring an alt-formatted station to the market, but when the news of 89X's changeover was announced Wednesday — along with CIDR-FM (93.9) shifting away from adult alternative — "it sealed the deal for us," Kenyon said Thursday.

The station had been playing all Christmas music since Nov. 1, and the new format arrived with Eminem's "Lose Yourself" going out over the airwaves at noon.

That meant an end to the station's local shows, including "The Chadd and Kristi Morning Show" and former WXYZ-TV and WDIV-TV meteorologist Kim Adams' midday show. Kenyon said the station will be looking to fill air slots with new personalities soon.

ALT 98.7 will be introducing what it touts as its "two-minute promise," meaning it will never play more than two minutes of commercials at a time, a strategy that has proven successful in other markets, Kenyon said. 

The Breeze was launched in Nov. 2018, taking over the former pop-leaning AMP Radio.

The puzzle pieces for ALT's arrival started moving when Windsor's 89X announced a format switch on Wednesday after three decades of playing alternative and new rock.

The changeover came at noon Thursday when Jane's Addiction's "Stop" — which was also the first song the station ever played when it launched in spring 1991 — segued into Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" and the announcement that the station is now "Pure Country 89." 

At the same time, CIDR-FM (93.9) also flipped formats on Thursday, going from adult alternative to Top 40 music. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @grahamorama