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Jan. 12, 2005

WHFS becomes Spanish station

by Varun Gulati, Page Editor
Information has been compiled from The Washington Post article "WHFS Abruptly Changes Format." Additional information has been compiled from the NBC article, "WHFS Changes Format."

After playing alternative rock music for over 20 years, radio station WHFS has switched over to broadcasting entirely Spanish music as of noon today, Wednesday, Jan. 12, according to The Washington Post and NBC.

In October, the station's owner, Infinity Broadcasting, made an alliance with Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. (SBS) and formed a new station, "El Zol," in order to target a larger audience. Infinity Broadcasting, which owns three other FM radio stations in the DC-Metropolitan area, found that WHFS' ratings had slipped lower than the others, making the station a viable candidate for the format switch advised by SBS.

"El Zol" will target 10-percent of the DC-Metro population, which consists of over 400,000 Hispanic people, and will play Caribbean and Central American music, according to Infinity. The station's slogan is "Siempre de Fiesta," which loosely translates to "always partying."

Several former WHFS listeners have created a petition urging the owners of the station to reevaluate their decision. As of 10:35 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 12, more than 3,600 people have signed the plea, claiming that the station has made a hasty choice.

According to The Washington Post, WHFS-FM 99.1, which stood for "Hi Fidelity Stereo," had many alternative rock listeners. The HFStival festival that the station sponsored yearly lured over 65,000 people to the RFK stadium in May 2004 alone.

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  • Alexander Gold on January 12, 2005 at 9:08 PM
    Nice reporting Varun. Was this planned or was it a shock to listeners? I didn't listen to HFS very much anymore, but I certianly hadn't heard anything about this from any of my friends who do. I will surely be missing loveline, the best radio program ever.
  • Aaron (View Email) on January 12, 2005 at 9:26 PM
    First off, I'd just like to state that I am in a state of shock right now, so if I say anything crazy, that is why. This is absolutely absurd. How can a station just disappear with nothing even hinting at it beforehand? In my opinion, Infinity owes HFS listeners a big explanation as to why there was no notice of this. I come home, check the website, AND IT'S A SPANISH STATION! I'm not saying that HFS was the best thing ever. In fact, for the most part, I didn't listen to it except in the very early morning and the late night. BUT A SPANISH STATION?! What the hell is going on?!

    The music isn't what I'm mourning, it's the atmosphere of HFS. No more waking up to the sweet voices of the Sports Junkies (at least until they go back to JFK or wherever they end up). No more going to sleep to the sounds of Adam Corolla going off on one of his trademark rants on Loveline. No more HFStival, no more other cool concerts they had.

    Now, I have an even bigger problem. As any HFS listener knows, they were running an auction for the Tsunami victims last week. I won one of the auctions: for passes to every movie premiere that HFS runs. I paid a good amount of money for those passes...AND NOW I GET NOTHING! They better be giving me my money back, or else I'm going to have to do something drastic, like take Infinity to court.

    I'm sure I'm forgetting something important in my rant, but right now I'm too pissed off to think. I'll probably be back tommorrow with some more.
  • ?!?!?!??!?!??!??! on January 12, 2005 at 9:58 PM
    What's gonna happen to the sports junkies?!?!??!??!???!?!?
  • what the flip on January 12, 2005 at 10:12 PM
  • CRAZY on January 12, 2005 at 10:33 PM

  • rocker on January 12, 2005 at 11:03 PM
    this is thoroughly depressing, for what are the thousands of people who listen to hfs supposed to do? why're they trying to target 10% of the hispanic population? that doesn't seem like a larger audience
  • planned on January 13, 2005 at 8:22 AM
    This was planned quite awhile ago. The public was just unaware. My dad is in the radio business and he has been telling me for years that HFS will not last much longer. About a year and a half ago he told me that they were considering changing it to a spanish language station.

    People just have to face it: HFS was failing, and this should not have come as a suprise.
  • anna and sayoh on January 13, 2005 at 8:52 AM
    What are we supposed to listen to now? DC 101 sucks!
  • di on January 13, 2005 at 1:58 PM
    I love HFS no more hfstival!!!:-(
  • WHO CARES on January 13, 2005 at 5:07 PM
    Radio is controlled by record labels... they play songs off of preselected playlists... and play the same songs over and over again.

    Radio was a free service, so HFS legally owes you absolutely nothing...

    so stop whining.

    Aaron: the point of the tsunami relief fundraiser was for TSUNAMI RELIEF, not for you to get free movie passes. For you to say you payed that money for those passes is disgusting and shameful.
  • sam on January 13, 2005 at 5:45 PM
    i think the junkies are going back to JFK! huzzah. they can talk about sports again
  • DGreene (View Email) on January 13, 2005 at 6:22 PM
    Yeah, I feel like the content quality at HFS had taken a dip over the past couple of years, but I did always enjoy the independent nature of the station, they were 'alternative' no lie, and some of the DJ's were a hoot, especially the recently added Sports Junkies and Big O and Dukes. And now there is only one real modern rock station in the area, which isn't good for anybody.

    I think HFS definitely should have gone out, if they must, with a bang, Infinity showed a lack of respect for thousands of listeners in the area with this sudden switch. Wouldn't a countdown to shutdown, replete with HFS parties, concerts and events been fun? and a better marketing idea?

    PS Aaron, yeah not getting your prize is uncool, but please don't ask to retract your donation to charity because you're not getting rewarded, that money is doing good.
  • El Zol-siempre de fiesta! on January 13, 2005 at 6:56 PM
    Cram it. This just means you'll have to hate your sorry lives while listening to some over crappy modern rock station.

    Although I must admit, I will miss the HFStival.
  • pretensious indie jerk on January 13, 2005 at 7:36 PM
    you could listen to some decent music
  • angry adam corolla fan on January 13, 2005 at 9:44 PM
    Loveline! The Junkies! The HFStival and Nutcracker! WHY?!?!?!
  • Rachel L on January 13, 2005 at 10:30 PM
    half the people who commented liked loveline which is basically talking. You might as well listen/ watch Howard Stern then. and concerts well go to other shows. tsunami Relief guy your money is going to a good cause so suck it up. Radio demographics are a my advice; listen to DC 101 or 94.7 which is classic rock but classic rock is great.
  • to on January 14, 2005 at 9:24 AM
    Just because your father works in the radio business and had an insider view does not mean everyone did, so don't say that this did not come as a surprise. HFS gave practically no warning to casual listeners at all. People knew that HFS wasn't bringing in great ratings, but an huge abrupt change such as this was completely unexpected by people who weren't on the inside. Taken from the Post article:

    At noon yesterday, the station behind the HFStival, a popular annual concert, broadcast the late Jeff Buckley's 1995 hit, "Last Goodbye." And then came something that WHFS listeners hadn't heard before in the station's 36-year history as the arbiter of cutting-edge rock:

    "WHFS transmitiendo desde la ciudad capital de America:

    "Esta! Es! Tu! Nueva! Radio!"

    The only warning people like me had was a song title.
  • OMG on January 14, 2005 at 12:02 PM
  • John Willmott (View Email) on January 14, 2005 at 9:37 PM
    The DJ on air at the time was not allowed to say a goodbye, so there was no warning. The DC manager found out Tuesday night at 6:30 PM, and the HFS staff found out at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, one hour before the switch.
  • sam silsbee on January 15, 2005 at 3:33 PM
    besides the loss of loveline, my favorite show ever, i sorta like el zol. the music is fast paced and fun. i heard some NORE and pittbull on the station too, so it doesnt only play stuff ive never heard of. i mean come on, do you want to "always party" or listen to, sau, the same Trapt song a million times in a row??

    eww trapt
  • Richard Cerpa (View Email) on January 15, 2005 at 11:36 PM
    Bring back WHFS. We do not need antother radio station in a forigien language
  • TOMMY PLATZKE (View Email) on January 17, 2005 at 7:27 PM
  • Max Lockwood on January 18, 2005 at 5:26 PM
    That's all I really have to say. The end of an era is at hand. ~tears~

    DJ ZEN
  • another angry adam carolla fan (View Email) on January 24, 2005 at 12:19 AM
    Is Loveline gone forever? Adam Carolla is the man! They better sign a contract with another station or something cuz I can't sleep without laughing my *** off first...
  • haha on February 8, 2005 at 7:35 PM
    Why don't you listen to some decent music, country for example
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