WYGR AM 1530 has changed its primary format from Spanish-based programming to urban with Robert S. (Womack) moving his brokered operations from WJNZ AM 1140. WYGR's "La Furia" moves to weekends from 3 p.m. until signoff.
Daytimer WYGR, which now identifies itself as "1530 Jamz, The Pulse of The City" features the Tom Joyner Morning Show from sign-on until 10am, and then programming from Citadel Media's syndicated 'The Touch' format until signoff.
Last fall Womack and his backers disputed the sale of WJNZ to Christian broadcaster Holy Family Radio after that group was the high bidder in a bankruptcy-forced sale by Huntington Bank, claiming the area would be losing its African American voice on the airwaves. A settlement was reached weeks later giving Womack up to six months to find a new home for his programming. A move to Catholic based programming is expected soon on AM 1140.
According to WYGR General Manager Roland Rusticus, the deal to change his station's format and clear the new programs came together pretty quickly. "Technically it's a 3-month renewable Time Brokerage agreement at this point, but our intention is for the format change to be permanent. We were only introduced to Robert a few weeks ago, so we're all still getting to know each other. As a result, we all agreed it would make sense to sort out the long-term business details a little later, once we've all had time to breathe."
Part of the agreement with the new owners of AM 1140 is that Robert S. is allowed to retain the WJNZ call sign if he so chooses. Rusticus commented, "We're not opposed to making the change at some point, but to this point '1530 Jamz' seems to be working and Robert hasn't expressed a strong opinion either way regarding the call letters."
Rusticus continues, "The local African-American community certainly deserves a radio voice, and given the impending format change at 1140, we're excited to meet that need. In a way, this is history repeating itself. In the late 1990s it was WYGR that pioneered Spanish-language radio in Grand Rapids. Given the changes in that market over the last 10 years, however, it's tough to make a case that the Hispanic community is underserved anymore. In fact, 4 Spanish-language stations in Grand Rapids was probably double what the market will really support, so a format change of some sort was inevitable. In a nutshell, we think this format change is going to be a win-win. It's the right thing to do -- we're meeting a definite need in the community -- and we believe it will prove to be a good business decision too."
WYGR offers life streaming and updated program schedule on its web site at wygr.net.