Mix 96.5 Becomes History as Clear Channel Opts for Country Format

By Dave DeWitte, Reporter

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By Kara Kelly

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Mix 96.5 FM, a long-running adult contemporary format in the Cedar Rapids metro market, has been jettisoned by Clear Channel Radio in favor of a country format.

Clear Channel debuted 96.5 WMT-FM Kiss Country, “Iowa’s New Country,” at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 27, a day and a half after ending its seasonal holiday music format.

Clear Channel acknowledged the past success of the Mix 96.5 format in announcing the change, saying that it won top honors for community and public service in the area at one point, and was recognized nationally for outstanding community service in 2010.

The switch to a country market was determined partly by the growing audience for contemporary country music and the large online audience for 95.7 FM KKSY in Anamosa, which Clear Channel had introduced in February 2008.

“Country demographics are really strong,” J.J. Cook, operations manager for Clear Channel Radio in Cedar Rapids, indicated in an e-mail responding to SourceMedia. “It has become the new mainstream format.”

Clear Channel gave the format a kind of test drive through its introduction in February 2008 of 95.7 KKSY-FM.

Cook indicated that the Internet listening audience for 95.7 FM KKSY was “through the roof.” He said the only complaints about the station were about off-air reception, which were alleviated when the station’s power was increased.

The new country format will be simulcast on both 96.5 and 95.7 FM for the immediate future.

Clear Channel plans to add a local morning talk show to the new format in January and plans to revamp the 95.7 format in 2012.

Clear Channel will soon be operating six stations in the Corridor. In addition to 96.5 and 95.7, they include 600 WMT-AM, a news-talk format; 800 KXIC-AM, which features news and sports; 1360-AM KMJM, which plays classic country and 100.7 KKRQ-FM, a classic rock station.

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