Fresh Listen: Miami 2021

If radio is going to remain interesting, South Florida radio needs to be interesting. The music has to be different. The stations have to convey sense of place. When I last wrote about Miami’s CHRs four years ago as part of a “Virtual Road Trip,” we were coming out of the worst of Top 40’s late ‘10s malaise. For a few years, South Florida radio had not been much more interesting than anywhere else.

Last week, on the heels of widespread corporate cutbacks, Cox’s WFLC (Hits 97.3) changed the market landscape again by segueing from CHR to “The Rhythm of Miami,” a Rhythmic Hot AC that lands somewhere between the current version of WKTU New York and the recently retooled WSTR (Star 94) Atlanta. Like WKTU, there’s still a strong recurrent component (and some currents). Like Star 94, there’s a lot of “oh wow” gold, although the era is considerably different. Star 94 goes back to ‘70s disco for a few titles. WFLC starts in the ‘90s.

Even though Star 94 was Hot AC, its change effectively ended a three-way hit music war of attrition and ultimately helped the 6-plus numbers for Top 40 WWWQ (Q100) (4.9 in the August PPM) and WWPW (Power 96.1) (4.0). In Miami, the CHR leader is iHeart’s WHYI (Y100) with a 3.8, followed by WFLC (2.6) and Audacy’s WPOW (Power 96) at a 2.0. Hits 97.3 hasn’t quite gotten out of CHR as much as becoming a gold-based CHR — something that is no longer an oxymoron in recent years. So it will be interesting to see how the landscape changes.

Clearly, it was a good time to take not just a First Listen to Hits 97.3 but to revisit the CHR battle. I also took a Fresh Listen to iHeart’s WMIA (Totally 93.9). That station became the test case for the all-’90s format in summer 2020. In August, it was flat at 1.6, in part because of Cox’s WFEZ (Easy 93.1) trying to control that music as well.

Here’s the new Hits 97.3 just before 4 p.m. on Sept. 27. The station is currently running jockless through 5,000 songs in a row. (The sweeper says, “We tried to figure out how long that was, but math! Duh!”). Like WKTU, there’s still a pop component to the station. The version of “You Broke Me First” heard here is an uptempo remix, but “Lose You to Love Me” was not. (Later, there was a midtempo mix of Duncan Laurence’s “Arcade.”)

  • Jennifer Lopez, “Ain’t It Funny”
  • Kygo & Whitney Houston, “Higher Love”
  • DJ Khalid f/Rihanna & Bryson Tiller, “Wild Thoughts”
  • Nelly, “Hot in Herre”
  • Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”
  • Will Smith, “Miami”
  • Ariana Grande, “7 Rings”
  • Usher f/Pitbull, “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love”
  • Maroon 5, “Lost”
  • Lady Gaga, “Paparazzi”
  • Tate McCrae, “You Broke Me First”
  • LMFAO, “Party Rock Anthem”
  • The Weeknd, “Save Your Tears”
  • Adam Lambert, “Whataya Want from Me”
  • Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa, “One Kiss”
  • Nico & Vinz, “Am I Wrong”
  • Justin Bieber f/Daniel Caesar & Giveon, “Peaches”
  • TLC, “No Scrubs”
  • Selena Gomez, “Lose You to Love Me”

Y100 WHYI MiamiY100 MD/p.m. driver Drew Heyman’s “Poll the People” topic for the hour was “what happens when your boyfriend is ready to say ‘I love you’ before you are?” He was also talking about iHeart Radio’s upcoming “Fiesta Latino”; the station’s annual “Jingle Ball” lineup will be unveiled later this week. 

Like most iHeart CHRs, Y100’s imaging has taken on a conversational/“observation comic” feel. Over the course of the hour, there were a few interesting brush strokes under PD Taylor Jukes:

  • A promo for Harry Styles tickets talked about the challenges of parenting these days, but promised the opportunity to be “parent of the year” if you won.
  • This rollover sweeper: “Like that feeling of getting a fresh set of nails. Feel good listening to Miami’s No. 1 hit music station. ‘Hey Google, play Y100 on iHeart Radio.’” I’ve bemoaned run-on imaging before, but this one managed to get station attitude, listener benefit, positioner, and call to action into eight seconds without sounding cluttered.
  • Like other songs on the station, Olivia Rodrigo’s “Déjà Vu” was customized at the end. After years of “power intros,” we now effectively have “power extros” that get listeners’ attention when they’re most invested in the song. 

Here’s Y100 just before 4 p.m.

  • Rihanna, “Disturbia”
  • Justin Bieber, “Ghost”
  • Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”
  • Olivia Rodrigo, “Déjà Vu”
  • Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”
  • Maroon 5 f/Christina Aguilera, “Moves Like Jagger”
  • Doja Cat f/SZA, “Kiss Me More”
  • Marshmello f/Jonas Brothers, “Leave Before You Love Me”
  • The Weeknd, “Heartless”
  • Dua Lipa, “Love Again”
  • Olivia Rodrigo, “Good 4 U”
  • Sean Paul, “Temperature”
  • Ed Sheeran, “Shivers”
  • Bad Bunny f/Jhay Cortez, “Dakiti”
  • The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber, “Stay”
  • Ariana Grande, “7 Rings”
  • Doja Cat, “Need to Know”
  • Olivia Rodrigo, “Traitor”

Power 96 96.5 WPOW-FM MiamiOn Power 96, 4 p.m. began with the station’s long-running Top 4 at 4 “Fourplay” countdown. Afternoons are now positioned as PD/p.m. driver “Mijo’s PM playlist.”  Mijo teased a trip giveaway to Audacy’s upcoming “We Can Survive” concert in Los Angeles. He also set up the Ckay f/Axel & DJ Yo song himself (as opposed to with a new-music sweeper) by talking about the song’s rise on Shazam and the popularity of Afrobeat.

  • Wizkid f/Tems, “Essence”
  • Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”
  • Elton John & Dua Lipa, “Cold Heart” (#4 on Fourplay at 4)
  • Shawn Mendes & Tainy, “Summer of Love” (#3)
  • Farruko, “Pepas” (#2)
  • Doja Cat, “Need to Know” (#1)
  • The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber, “Stay”
  • Bad Bunny f/Jhay Cortez, “Dakiti”
  • The Weeknd, “Take My Breath”
  • Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow, “Industry Baby”
  • Ckay f/Axel & DJ Yo!, “Love Nwantiti”
  • Ariana Grande, “POV”
  • Doja Cat f/SZA, “Kiss Me More”
  • Olivia Rodrigo, “Déjà Vu”
  • Fabolous, “Can’t Let You Go”
  • Black Eyed Peas f/Saweetie & Lele Pons, “Hit It” (w/artist intro stager)

Totally 93.9 WMIA-FM MIA MiamiFinally, here’s Totally 93.9 during the same hour. Market veteran DJ Laz was using the birth of Nick Cannon’s seventh child to ask listeners “how many kids are too many?” He was also soliciting requests for a TLC triple play to kick off 5 p.m., since the group was performing in Miami that night. WMIA was also giving away iHeart Fiesta Latino tickets. Musically the station has a more noticeable Hot AC/Modern AC component than at its launch, although as previously noted, that brings it closer to the station that Y100 was during the ‘90s.

  • Faith Hill, “This Kiss”
  • George Lamond, “Bad of the Heart”
  • Cranberries, “Dreams”
  • Mark Morrison, “Return of the Mack”
  • Mariah Carey, “I Don’t Wanna Cry”
  • Notorious B.I.G., “Big Poppa”
  • Paula Cole, “I Don’t Want to Wait”
  • Real McCoy, “Run Away”
  • Vanilla Ice, “Ice Ice Baby”
  • Alanis Morissette, “You Oughta Know”
  • 98 Degrees, “The Hardest Thing”
  • Tag Team, “Whoomp! There It Is”
  • TLC, “Waterfalls” (first of the TLC triple play)

This story first appeared on