Closing Time: Some Unhappy With 103.7 FM's Christian Change
At 5 p.m. Tuesday, 103.7 KHJK left the Houston airwaves, leaving "Houston's Adult Alternative" without a substitute. Christian alternative format Air 1 Radio has taken its place.
The changeover as a result of Cumulus Media's prepackaged bankruptcy buyout that included KHJK and sports-talk station KFNC (97.5 FM, "The Ticket"). KFNC was bought by GOW Communications and KHJK was bought by Educational Media Foundation, which owns nationwide Contemporary Christian network KLOVE and its Christian alternative-music cousin Air 1.
Like KSBJ and public radio, the new station will be commercial-free and funded by pledge drives. According an EMF press release, Air1 is carried on 105 stations nationwide and heard by more than two million listeners weekly.
The change is a win-loss situation for Houston radio. It's a loss for local indie-music fans, who have lost their place to listen to the likes of Florence and the Machine, the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons.
However, it's also a win because fans of Christian rock will gain a new and more widely available outlet to listen to the likes of such favorites as the Fray, TobyMac, and more.
"Air1 is 'the positive alternative,' says Air1 programming director Paul Goldsmith. "I think people need some encouragement, we hope to offer that in a unique and compelling way."
Social media was abuzz Tuesday with reaction about the changeover, most it negative. Many Twitter users have said the changeover was either "lame" or a "damn shame." The Houston Chronicle's 29-95 tweeted "Houston's adult alternative station KHJK 103.7 changing to a Christian CHR format. Goodbye Shins on the radio."
KHJK "played a lot of new and often obscure alternative music that hadn't been played on Houston radio for many years," local media blogger Mike McGuff of mikemcguff.com told Rocks Off in an email. "I think that format could have been more successful on a more powerful transmitter.
"I always hate to see a locally staffed station go off the air," McGuff added. "103.7 was a great format."
KHJK ended its time on the Houston airwaves with Semisonic's "Closing Time" and the R.E.M. classic "It's the End Of The World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)."
Rocks Off left messages to Steve Robinson, former KHJK Programming Director, but none were returned.