Originally posted Wednesday, January 2, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
After 17 years as Q100, the Atlanta pop station in the new year has changed its name to Q99.7.
This makes sense because people today see the frequency number on their radios as much if not more often than they hear the name of the station. Bert Weiss on Wednesday morning explained that this makes it easier for newcomers to find the station on the FM dial.
Will people still be calling it Q100 for years to come? Probably. It’s a well-established brand name in Atlanta. As the folks at Weight Watchers know, it may take awhile before people refer to it as WW. And is anyone yet saying, “I’m off to Dunkin’” rather than “I’m off to Dunkin’ Donuts?”
The origin of the name Q100 stems from the fact it was on the weaker 100.5 FM frequency when it launched in 2001.
At that time, for ratings purposes, listeners who were given Arbitron diaries would have to write down what they listened to. In the minds of the radio station managers, it probably made more sense to keep it simple so they opted for Q100 instead of Q100.5.
In 2008, as rock station 99X’s fortunes were waning, Atlanta-based Cumulus Media gave the stronger 100,000-watt 99.7 signal to Q100. Cumulus also chose to keep the station’s name since in either case, it was close to 100 and branding consistency superseded digital specificity.
A year later, Arbitron (now Nielsen Audio) began using a separate device that passively tracks listening called the People Meter. This meant it was no longer so critical for stations to have super simple radio station names since they got credit even if the person listening didn’t know the station name.
Nowadays, stations typically use their full frequency name rather than something more succinct e.g. Rock 100.5, Kiss 104.1, Z105.3, B98.5, Power 96.1. About three years ago, after more than 25 years as Star 94, that top 40 station became Star 94.1.
One of the only remaining stations in town that hasn’t gone this direction has been R&B/hip-hop station V-103 which technically should be V-103.3.
By the way, the only time you hear the actual four-letter call letters of most stations is at the top of the hour, when stations are required to do so by the Federal Communications Commission. And I hardly ever use the call letters in stories. Q99.7’s call letters, in case you care, remain WWWQ-FM.
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