News 92, Houston's first all-news FM radio station, shocked its listeners and employees today, suddenly firing all 47 staff members and immediately debuting a new temporary format: All-Beyoncé Channel B92.
This comment was posted on the News 92 website:
We’d like to thank the News 92 staff for their outstanding service, our advertisers and each of you our listeners and web visitors for your support. This difficult decision is a result of sustained poor ratings performance and significant financial losses over the past three years despite the substantial financial and human resources we invested. Unfortunately, the market hasn’t shown a sustainable appetite for news radio, but each of you motivated us daily to produce a high-quality news program. Together, we made history."
Lanny Griffith, News 92 traffic master, reacted to the firing on his Facebook page.
BREAKING NEWS: News92FM is GONE, off the air. The whole staff has been FIRED. We thank you for your support and I will be fine. We are heart broken cause we put everything into this station but it just wasn't meant to be. Thanks to Radio One for all you did for all of us and our families. Anyone need to hire me for some media work?"
Meanwhile, listeners are posting to Facebook and tweeting about the firings and format change, with many saying they were listening to the regular traffic report and then a Beyonce song started playing.
"I was listening then this hip hop crap," one fan wrote on Facebook. Another person wrote: "Very disappointing news. Nowhere else could I get such a great report on Houston and the world for the duration of my commute."
News radio fans are also sharing their views on FM 92's comment feed. "I am going to miss this - how will I ever get to work! I listened every morning and every evening without fail;" "As soon as I heard the change, I changed the station. Like Houston needs one more urban format station, nothing New. Houston radio now Sucks even more;" and "Houston Radio is now in the toilet" are some of the reactions.
Back in November 2011, CultureMap reported on the grand experiment of the new all-news station. Back then, Alfred Liggins, the Radio One's CEO, contacted regional vice president Doug Abernethy, saying he wanted to transform the former local gospel station Praise 92.1 into a 24-hour, all news radio source — News 92 Radio. The station quickly moved to hire an A-list team.
News notables who came on board, in addition to Griffith, included longtime radio morning news anchors J.P. Pritchard and Lana Hughes, Mike Barajas, Scott Braddock, Carolyn Campbell, Kevin Charles, Brent Clanton, Laurie Kendrick, Martha Martinez, Bonnie Petrie, Matt Sampsell, meteorologist Dr. Joe Sobel, Pattie Shieh, Craig Roberts and Jorge Vargas. A big part of News 92's early promotion centered around its all-star team of well-known Houston broadcasters.
Later, the station spent about $900,000 on an expansion project for a new studio, newsroom, offices and green room, according to media expert Mike McGuff. McGuff also noted News 92 barely reached above a 1.0 rating in its time as a station.
Nielsen ratings for September have News 92.1, with a 0.9 percent audience share, making it only the 26th highest rated radio station in the city.