Victoria Nelson was among Utah metal fans who drove to work with a heavy heart on Tuesday, after yet another Salt Lake City radio station, 94.9 Z Rock, quietly underwent a surprise format change to Alt 94.9.
"It makes me mad," said Nelson, a Hooper resident who commutes an hour each way to Murray. "If I wanted alternative, I'd listen to X96. I lived in the '90s; I'm done with them."
Cumulus Salt Lake has changed more often than the weather in the last two months. First, in July, the Atlanta-based corporation laid off Todd and Erin Collard from B98.7. Then, in August, popular on-air disc jockey Jimmy Chunga was let go and 101.9 The End became Classic Hits 101.9, leaving Cumulus without a Utah-based alternative music station. On Labor Day at 9 a.m., with apparently no notice to listeners, Z Rock was scrapped for Alt 94.9. Cumulus Salt Lake Program Director Sue Kelley did not return calls seeking comment.
The move pits Cumulus' Alt 94.9 against Simmons Media Group's X96 in the alternative genre which ranges from angst-channeling '90s teen icons like Nirvana and Green Day to bubbly folk rockers like Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers .
Howie Rock's "The Rock Show" has been rebranded as the "Half-Assed Morning Show," which is just slightly less nonchalant than its devil-may-care opponent, X96's "Radio From Hell."
Rock posted on Facebook on Monday: "Bombs dropping at the station! Say hello to Alt 94.9! The good news is that apparently, [Corky], Bree and I made the cut. The bad news is that our name did not fully make the transition, got stuck in the door and lost a cheek."
The lineup will be Howie Rock, Corky and Bree in the mornings, Monroe in mid-day and Tysen Webb, formerly of 101.9 The End, in the afternoon. Victor Cade will retain his nighttime slot. Gone from the afternoon is Darby, a Denver-based syndicated DJ who addressed a flood of concerned Facebook posts with an audio recording.
"The local people treated me great and, as for Cumulus, they are a business like any other and did what they think is best for business," Darby wrote in an email to The Tribune. "People don't like to think of radio as a business but it is. Cumulus owns the stations and it's their prerogative to change them as they see fit. I don't begrudge them that at all."
There was no word of layoffs. Sandy's Cindy Kay Sparks says she loves the 94.9 disc jockeys and is glad that Cumulus retained most of them, but it doesn't matter: She won't tune in anymore.
"I can't listen to them because I don't like their music. It hurts my heart."
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