Saturday, February 21, 2009

First Review: 97.1 "Amp Radio"

And so it begins: CBS Radio officially flipped 97.1 KLSX-FM from talk to top 40 at 5 p.m., after "FM Talk " host Tom Leykis signed off with Joe Jackson's "I'm the Man" (followed by an explosion). Right at 5, a pre-produced piece announcing the new "Amp Radio" format kicked things off, followed by Kanye West's "Paranoid."

The first hour of music included "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga; "California Love," by 2Pac feat. Dr. Dre; "Shut Up," by Pink; "Dead and Gone," by T.I. feat. Justin Timberlake; "Single Ladies," by Beyonce; "Whut's Luv?" by Fat Joe feat. Ashanti; "Let It Rock" by Kevin Rudolph feat. Lil Wayne; "Right Now," by Akon; "Hot N Cold," by Katy Perry; "Disturbia," by Rihanna; "Gold Digger," by Kanye West; "Love Sex Magic," by Ciara feat. Justin Timberlake; "Whatever You Like" by T.I.; and "I Hate This Part," by Pussycat Dolls.

Some immediate thoughts: Perhaps they're just trying to get some sampling right now, but the playlist for "Amp Radio" is very narrow. It's only been on a few hours, but certain songs, like "Shut Up" and "Just Dance," have already played several times. There's also very little variation in its rhythmic lean -- it honestly makes KIIS-FM sound diverse.

But again, it's early, and they may be focusing on just getting people to stumble across the station in the coming days by sticking to a pretty small, hyper-CHR playlist. The production values seem strong -- unlike other station flips in recent years (I'm looking at you, Movin' 93.9 and the Sound 100.3), this seems to have been pretty well planned out. The web site already has content, and the station's audio has been fine-tuned to sound pretty good coming out of the speakers.

For fans of radio, this was a well-engineered flip. The station sounds tight and bright. I'm really curious to see what direction they go with on-air talent -- will it be young, street-sounding jocks? Or will it sound more like a straight-ahead top 40?

My biggest question is, will Amp Radio 97.1 (I'm still not sure I like that name -- I keep thinking of an energy drink; maybe that's the point) offer enough of a different and/or compelling sound to steal away listeners of KIIS, Power 106 or even KBIG "My 104"? I'm not hearing anything yet that would make someone flip (well, other than the current commercial-free broadcast). Will KIIS be impacted? We'll find out soon.

UPDATE: Wanna know how the transition from 97.1 FM Talk to 97.1 Amp Radio sounded? Via An(j), here's the last half hour of FM Talk (including Tom Leykis' farewell) into the first two hours of Amp Radio. (Click on the first stream; the flip happens 30 minutes in.)

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