Change of tune

WFIV FM moves to 1960s, ’70s music format

Following nearly 18 years as a well-known local Adult Album Alternative radio station, Farragut’s WFIV, 105.3 FM has changed formats.

Instead of the likes of staples such as Sheryl Crow or Bruce Springsteen, or relatively newer artists such as War and Treaty or Ruthie Collins, the station began playing its new rotation of “Good Times, Great Oldies” music from the 1960s and ’70s Friday, Sept. 5.

Station chief manager Tony Cox, who also is publisher of farragutpress, noted the COVID-19 shutdown effectively zapped the station’s advertising revenue, leaving its future in serious peril.

“When COVID struck, live music shut down, and it is the only industry that remains shut down,” Cox said. “Promoting and advertising live shows was so much of our advertising budget, and it just dried up.”

Even though the station received federal Paycheck Protection Program funding, ensuring its three full-time and two part-time employees remained working, “We realized we were going to have to make a change,” he added.

The decision did not come easy to station owner Doug Horne, who also is a well-known regional developer and owner of farragutpress.

“We were losing money at the station even before COVID-19 — we weren’t getting enough income in revenues to run the station,” Horne said last week. “But revenues really fell off after the shutdown, and to preserve the station and keep it running we had to make changes or shut it down.

“And, really, every business has to change,” he added. “Change is good and can help you come up with new ideas.”

Both Horne and Cox said the specific format change was discussed at length before being chosen.

“We talked about what was best to have in Farragut and in the area our station serves,” Horne said. “That includes West Knoxville, East Loudon County and Tellico (Village).”

Horne also owns a radio station in Sweetwater, WMTY 98.3, which plays music from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, while broadcasting Christian programming each Sunday. Religious programming also is on its AM station, WDEH AM 800.

“The programming there has really held up, and helped us decide on the ’60s and ’70s for our listening area,” he said. “We believe that format will also fit in well with our business advertisers.”

Cox said feedback so far has been “mostly positive,” and he has made it a point to answer Facebook queries and e-mails explaining the changes.

He said at least one listener, one who tuned in early Sept. 6,” has let me know how much he has enjoyed the new music, by checking in frequently since that time.”

Program director Joe Stutler, who has been with WFIV for 11 years, said he is looking forward to the opportunities ahead.

“I definitely hate to see the change, but I understand the why, and this is a new opportunity for us as we look for new doors to open,” he said.

“Radio may be free, but we rely on small businesses to keep us alive. We have to find the way forward to survive,” he added.