BY ADAM R JACOBSON
MIAMI — In a widely rumored move, Miami-based Hispanic media company SBS on Monday completed its transition of WXDJ-FM’s “El Zol” Tropical format to 100,000-watt powerhouse WRMA-FM by debuting on WXDJ what may be best-described as a hybrid Tropical/Spanish Contemporary format under the moniker “I-95” – pronounced “Eee-Noventa-y-Cinco.”
With a slogan promoting itself as the home for “ritmo romántico de Miami,” I-95 features a wide mix of current and recent Tropical and Spanish Contemporary hits. The 6pm hour included songs from Prince Royce, Alejandro Sanz, Aventura, Chino & Nacho, Fonseca, Chayanne and Ricardo Arjona, among other artists. Popular English-language ballads can also be found on I-95, including Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason” and Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Reflecting Miami’s penchant for dance music, the 7pm hour also featured the popular nightclub track “Levels,” by Avicii. Other artists heard on I-95 include Spanish pop superstars Juanes and Maná.
I-95 is presently absent of air personalities and is commercial-free, with the focus on the station’s new musical direction, which incorporates elements of WRMA’s long-time “Romance” Spanish Adult Contemporary format with some of the English-language Top 40 hits aired on its successor presentation, “DJ106.7.” I-95’s 40,000-watt signal is centered in Miami-Dade County and enjoys city-grade coverage over southern Broward County, which has gained a considerable number of Latino residents in recent years.
Interestingly, it’s not the first time that a radio station in Miami has paid homage to one of the region’s busiest highways by using the “I-95” name. In the early 1980s, WINZ-FM battled WHYI-FM “Y-100” as a high-energy Top 40 that served as South Florida’s first home for the burgeoning rap and freestyle dance product that would later define longtime player WPOW-FM “Power 96.” WINZ-FM is now Clear Channel’s Spanish Contemporary WMGE-FM “Mega 94.9.”
With the debut of I-95, WRMA is now the sole home for “El Zol,” which takes a greater focus on bachata, merengue and much of the reggaetón-infused Latin Pop found on Spanish Contemporary stations across the eastern U.S. and Puerto Rico. The shift of El Zol to the 106.7 FM frequency ended a roughly 16-month run for “DJ106.7,” which featured noted Miami-based talent DJ Laz in morning drive and English-language pop music with Spanish-language commercials. The DJ106.7 presentation replaced Romance in July 2012.
The move to the bigger 106.7 FM frequency for El Zol has already improved SBS’s fortunes in the Nielsen Audio ratings for Miami-Fort Lauderdale. In December 2013, WXDJ cracked the top 10 by capturing a 3.9 share of all radio listeners, regardless of language –placing it behind only Univision Radio’s Spanish Adult Contemporary WAMR “Amor 107.5” in the battle for supremacy among Miami’s Spanish-language stations. WXDJ had a 2.8 share in October 2013, jumping past Univision Radio’s Spanish Contemporary WRTO “Mix 98” in December.