Alternative rock replaces sports talk on 104.3 FM

Listeners tuning in to 104.3-FM The Ticket on Friday got a surprise: Without warning, the station switched permanently to an alternative rock station.

That means all of the sports programming that had been simulcast on both 104.3 FM and 790 AM will now air on only 790. That 790 lineup is highlighted by Heat games and Dan Le Batard’s program, which is expected to move from 3 p.m. to 9 a.m. in a few weeks.

Entercom, which last month completed its purchase of both stations from Lincoln Financial, believes a music format will generate more revenue that an FM sports format. The switch happened at 11 a.m. Friday, without any public announcement in advance.

The new 104.3 FM has been branded ‘The Shark.’

“The FM didn’t put us so far over the top that everyone stopped doing sports; it didn’t give us this big huge victory,” general manager Doug Abernathy said.

“The data shows that everyone calls it 790 The Ticket. That’s the brand. There was this gaping hole in [ages] 18 to 49 that was being underserved --- music in general. You have five, six stations doing pop, hip hop in the market. We’re serving up something that is sorely missed in the marketplace.”

The 104.3 FM signal has been simulcasting 790’s programming since August 2012 and drew more listeners than the AM signal did.

The elimination of one of the Ticket’s signals will give WQAM-560 an opportunity to make inroads in its ratings battle against The Ticket, which has been winning in most dayparts.