It should be no secret by now that radio music in Miami leaves something to be desired. Surely, much of the lack of selection for many is due to a clear-cut language barrier, but there are still English-language stations, ranging from world-famous (Power 96) to personality-driven (103.5 The Beat), to top 40 (the excessively teeny-bopperish Y-100) that fall flat on their face in their efforts to meet expectations.
And to top it all off? How about an unannounced change in the market’s top rock station (WZTA) to a Spanish-language format.
So, who comes along to save the day?
Rock 93, formerly Party 93, formerly Miami’s classical station WTMI.
You see, just as loyal rockers started turning their dials to uncharted territory-“You make me wanna la- la” territory-Party 93 made an overnight switch to a format that not only attempted to match Zeta’s rock catalog, but also exceeded it.
Of course, any true rock fan would honestly tell you that Zeta has been in steep decline recently: It lost its highly valued morning show duo, Paul Castronovo and “Young” Ron Brewer to rival Big 106-and had them replaced by the “about-as-funny-as-a-car-accident” Lex and Terry-and its modern rock format called for too much Three Doors Down and Nickelback.
The last time 93.1 made a format change-from classical to dance-many were up in arms about the loss of the city’s only classical station. But the end result was something magical. Party 93.1 nixed the DJ format and reduced commercial time so that every hour was packed with practically one hour of non-stop music. The station carved out huge chunks of other stations’ audiences, and may well have still been going strong today if it weren’t for a backfired ad campaign regarding its lack of commercials (when you start counting how many commercials Power 96 played in the last 15 minutes and stop playing music to announce it, you’ve basically made the whole no-commercial thing a moot point).
As for this time around? I decided to tune in to Rock 93 to listen for myself. The first song I heard them play? “No Excuses” by Alice n’ Chains, followed by some new Velvet Revolver, proceeded by Godsmack.
I shed a single tear.
Ben Minkus can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.