2016 saw more success of the hybrid music and news format. You know those stations that are half newstalk and half music stations.
Brigada Networks particularly in Cebu, Philippines are now dominating the airwaves as it ranked higher in recent radio survey.
Last year was also the soft launch of Radyo Bisdak DXWO Pagadian City, which used to be Power 99 FM.
In fact, they still are using the Power 99 FM branding. Since this is what listeners are used to and even advertisers. Dropping that signature station logo will mean also dropping their most beloved and well known brand the listeners in Pagadian have been accustomed to for 30 years.
In San Carlos City, Power 95 FM is now called Kumbati News. However they still use the visual and sonic logo Power 95 FM.
Muews Radio 97.5 Iligan City is also doing well.
Unfortunately, there is one exception. 105.9 Balita FM closed shop last year.
See, there lies the problem.
By the way, 92.3 News FM in Manila does not fall into this category. News FM is an entirely newstalk format that broadcasts in FM band.
Now back to why some hybrid news music format flourish and some fail.
This format though is not new. In the provinces, low power stations thrive by combining a newstalk stations into the FM stations since operating 2 separate stations for each AM and FM band would be cost prohibitive.
Radyo Natin by MBC is one such network.
1.) Brand Popularity – some radio stations like DXWO Radyo Bisdak have been around for a long time. In Pagadian, where there are almost 10 FM stations and a handful of AM stations, people still prefer the station. Right now, the 99.9 FM band have been franchised to a new owner.
After the death of radio patriarch Alex Sy, the former owner of DXWO FM, the station has been performing ill in terms of sales.
Even if there were national advertisers, and they had a network of stations under Times Broadcasting Network Corporation, still the station had to be rescued.
So, it was bought a group and under the Bisdak network, which also operates in Dipolog. They also used bought DXWO’s sister station there.
With a new owner, a new investor, DXWO continues airing. They transferred their transmitter to a hill to increase coverage, with this new format and powerful transmission they are in direct competition to DXCA, a station owned by a political family in Zamboanga del Sur. That leads us to number 2.
2.) Political Backup – in order for a hybrid news and music format to remain on the air, you have to be owned by a political family. Such is the case of DXCA Bell FM. The arch enemy of DXWO.
Since, it’s inception, DXCA has been airing a news program from 5 am to 8 am. Then from 8 am until 12 midnight sign off, they go music.
Being owned by a political dynasty, DXCA literally is untouchable in ZDS. They never ran out of advertisers, of course, as a business owner in the region, you’d like be friends with the reigning politicos.
But whether they have strong sales or not, these political family owned radio stations will thrive, as long as they are still in power.
3.) Advertiser-Owned – such is the case of the Brigada Network. They are very much flourishing in Mindanao and in Cebu.
The secret? Well, their stations’ primary advertiser is the owner of the network.
See, Brigada was founded by a businessman who sells food supplements and liniments. He used to be a broadcaster too and paid radio stations across Mindanao and the Visayas to sell his products.
Knowing the ropes of the industry and feeling that his money just goes to the radio stations, he decided to buy and built stations, so he doesn’t have to pay other stations.
If you listen to Brigada stations, you will notice that most of its advertisements are for a food supplement and liniment products.
So even if they don’t sell much airtime, the station is already selling products for a living.
4.) Network Affiliation – if you don’t belong to a network, you are on your own.
The past few years have been tough for some stations in Mindanao.
DXDD although not a hybrid news music format has been struggling in their finances. The good thing is they are part of the CMN or Catholic Media Network, a network of stations owned by parishes or priests or Catholic organizations.
It’s common sense, even if one is an independent station. The station manager or owner should have its station be adopted by a network.
Advertisements are of course the lifeblood of radio stations unless you are government owned.
The very reason why these cross format stations now are thriving is because national or network owned stations have become cost prohibitive for local businesses.
The rates have gone up. So instead entrepreneurs are looking for cheaper ways to advertise their products.
Not everyone though is fond of the programming, especially those who raise their eyebrows on the bakya or pang-masa sound.
But overall, it is a tolerable format, a big hit for listeners in the countryside, the taxi and jeepney drivers and the senior citizens.
There’s a bright future ahead of these stations. Not to be left behind, they now embrace social media with some streaming on Facebook Live.
They now cater to a more listeners, not necessarily a broader slice of the economic segment but their core listeners who now work abroad as OFWs.
These OFWs want to listen to a radio station that keeps them abreast of local news from the province they came from.
While some stations fail, the hybrid news and music format will continue to thrive.