Say “so long” to the Fringe and “hello” to Classic 105.3 FM.
While the Fringe played tunes that were a little off the beaten path – primarily retro alternative music – Classic 105.3 FM will play, as the name implies, classic songs mainly from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, according to well-known Austin broadcaster Bob Cole, one of the founding partners of the Austin Radio Network, the station’s owner.
The changes at the Fringe, which had been on the air for about a year, took effect Monday morning.
“It’ll be all familiar songs that no one else in Austin is playing,” said Cole. “We’re serving all these folks who aren’t getting this anywhere else.”
The changes come after months of monitoring ratings data, Cole said. “The JB and Sandy Morning Show,” the Fringe’s signature show, did very well with women, he said, but many of those female listeners were heading elsewhere when the show ended. The music the Fringe played the rest of the day drew primarily men, he said.
“It was almost like we were running two different stations on the same frequency,” he said.
As part of the changes, morning co-host Sandy McIlree said Sunday that he has decided to depart. His longtime partner, JB Hager, is sticking around.
“I am under no contractual obligations and looking for a new opportunity,” McIlree said. “I wish the Austin Radio Network the best and thank them for the opportunity.”
The extensive playlist for the new Classic 105.3 FM will include songs from Blondie, Billy Joel, the Eagles, Neil Diamond, Roy Orbison, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Stevie Wonder and Phil Collins, among others.
Some of those same artists were heard until recently on another Austin Radio Network station, 104.9 the Horn. That station, which had featured a 50-50 mix of local sports and music, is now round-the-clock sports, augmenting its locally produced daytime shows with national programs from NBC Sports Radio and Yahoo Sports Radio on nights and weekends.
Cole points out that the Horn and 98.5/99.3 KOKE-FM, Austin Radio Network’s country radio station, have both seen strong ratings growth and, with the music changes on 105.3 FM, he’s certain great things are ahead for that frequency, too.
“We’re giving the listeners the music they want,” he said. “I’m really excited.”