Fox News 640/WGST gone, becomes Black Information Network with 14 other stations

iHeartMedia has dropped Fox News 640/WGST-AM in Atlanta for a new format Black Information Network as of noon Tuesday.

Fourteen other launch stations are in markets such as Augusta and Columbus in Georgia, along with Charlotte, San Francisco and Norfolk. Many are on the FM dial.

The company has called it “the first and only 24/7 national and local all news audio service dedicated to providing an objective, accurate and trusted source of continual news coverage with a Black voice and perspective.”

The network will also provide newscasts on iHeart’s 91 hip hop, R&B and gospel music stations nationwide, including 105.3/The Beat in Atlanta.

According to IHeart’s press release, the network will be funded by traditional advertising and national founding partners “who will be able to deliver important messages to BIN’s audiences and serve as a platform for philanthropic and community outreach to build brand connection and support the Black community, as well as use it for advertising messages as needed.” The launch partners are Bank of America, CVS Health, GEICO, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, Sony, 23andMe and Verizon.

WGST, in the 1980s and 1990s, was a powerful news/talk station in Atlanta when more listeners were on AM. It competed with WSB. For a time, the station also had an FM simulcast on 105.7, which fueled ratings. The station, which for a time aired the Atlanta Braves, was a launching pad for Clark Howard, Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz.

But as listeners steadily moved away from AM, WGST lost ratings. It dumped most local programming in 2006 and for a brief time disappeared completely in 2012-13 for Hispanic sports talk. With largely syndicated programming such as  Glenn Beck, Dave Ramsey and George Noory, the ratings since 2013 have been tiny, usually with shares of 0.1 or 0.2.

The AM dial in Atlanta is now populated largely by niche ethnic and religious programming. News/talk WSB doesn’t even promote its 750 AM side since a vast majority of its listeners now catch it on 95.5.