WNUA trades one Spanish format for another

In one fell swoop Tuesday, Clear Channel-owned WNUA-FM swung the ax to Spanish CHR Mega 95.5 and replaced it with a Regional Mexican format – El Patron 95.5 at approximately noon.

Regional Mexican is the most popular music format among Hispanics in the U.S., and WNUA plans to take on two other stations with the same format – Univision’s heritage WOJO-FM and SBS’ WLEY-FM.

The moves comes as Clear Channel registered two domains on Monday: 955NowChicago.com and 955Elpatron.com, as reported by the reliable Radio Insight website, run by Lance Venta. The first domain suggested a shift back to an English-language format, adapting Clear Channel’s new Now branding, an Adult CHR format which recently launched at KDMX-FM in Dallas (under its previous branding as Mix 102.9, Khloe Kardashian briefly hosted a daily one-hour lunchtime show.)

According to Radio Insight, Clear Channel actually had been sitting on the ElPatron955.com domain (different from the one they registered on Monday) for more than two years – for a rumored format flip that never took place.

Since switching from Smooth Jazz in 2009, Mega 95.5 FM has been a disappointment, with ratings routinely trailing those of WOJO-FM, WLEY-FM, and WOJO’s sister station WVIV.

While not entirely important in this day and age (particularly in the PPM era), it would help a little bit if Clear Channel changed the call letters of the 95.5 frequency. When you think of WNUA, Smooth Jazz still comes to mind – the format the frequency held for 22 years. After switching from Alternative to Oldies in 2005, it took three years for WLS-FM to get rid of the WZZN calls, which date back to the ’80’s format it briefly had in 2000-01.

Even though WGBO-TV long ago dumped its syndicated programming lineup for Spanish-language network Univision, reruns of Perry Mason, Bonanza, The Rifleman, and the names of really, really, bad movies still come to yours truly’s mind whenever I think about the WGBO calls… low-rated programming the station seemingly ran ad nauseam during its days as an independent station.