With the flip of a switch at noon Monday, iHeartMedia Chicago launched a new country music station on WNUA FM 95.5, replacing its regional Mexican El Patrón format.
Billed as “Big 95.5” and featuring such artists as Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert, the new station will compete head-on against WUSN FM 99.5, the CBS Radio country powerhouse with a 33-year history in the format.
“Big 95.5 is going to be a dynamic country music leader and a breath of fresh air for country radio in Chicago,” Matt Scarano, president of iHeartMedia Chicago, said in a statement. “The station will deliver the biggest hits, the biggest stars and the biggest results for our advertising partners too.”
No air personalities or program director have been announced yet. The station will broadcast music commercial-free for the time being, according to a spokeswoman.
Calling it “a great day for Chicago country music fans,” Tommy Austin, vice president of programming for iHeartMedia Chicago, said in a statement: “This station will give our listeners a front-row seat to country’s biggest artists and concerts.” The format will include “exclusive album premieres and new song releases with some all-time favorite ‘Throwbacks,’” according to the announcement.
Under the Clear Channel Communications banner, WNUA last changed format in May 2009 when it switched from smooth jazz to Spanish-language music.
In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, WNUA tied for 20th overall with a 1.9 percent share and cumulative weekly audience of 636,200. US 99.5 tied for seventh with a 3.5 share and weekly cume of 1,155,200.