Currently in the throes and ho-ho-ho’s of its annual holiday music format, Twin Cities light-pop station WLTE 102.9 FM will be giving country music lovers a gift the day after Christmas. That’s when the station will be reborn as BUZ’N 102.9, an all-country outlet that will directly go up against its boss Mick Anselmo’s former baby, K102.
The changeover was announced Monday morning by CBS Radio, which owns WLTE along with WCCO Radio (830 AM) and Jack 104.1 FM. Anselmo is now senior vice-president and market manager of CBS Radio’s Minneapolis office. He steered K102 into becoming one of the top-rated country music stations in the nation and made many pals along the way (i.e., Brad Paisley is a fishing buddy). However, he was dumped by K102’s parent Clear Channel in 2007.
“BUZ’N will offer Minneapolis area residents the best in new country music, culture, and community both on-air and through online outlets," Anselmo said in a statement. "Launching a brand in the digital age offers us a whole new array of multi-platform communication and connection with our audience."
Toward that end, BUZ'N 102.9 has started up a Facebook page and is on Twitter: @buzn1029. The artists mentioned in the station announcement are pretty much the top sellers in country: Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, the Band Perry, Lady Antebellum and (guess who?) Paisley.
Country music itself remains the most resilient genre in modern music, consistently selling albums and concert tickets while rock, pop and hip-hop have largely faltered in recent years. Along the way, country music lovers have been less and less stereotyped as rural (read: hick) listeners by radio advertisers and are now associated with suburban sprawl and even plenty of urban demographics. So this move makes perfect business sense, even without Anselmo's involvement. With him at the helm, it's a total no-brainer. The only surprise is it hasn't happened long before now. BUZ'N will officially debut Dec. 26 at 8 a.m.
And for the very few human beings out there who have HD Radio, read music news online and enjoy WLTE, the station is not going away entirely: It will still be broadcast via HD Radio as KZJK-2, sister to Jack at 104.1 FM.