Last Thursday, the New Republic rose with 104.3 FM2. It is the 2nd station in the Metro which plays retro music, albeit only the 80s & 90s. It is manned by veteran DJs, Carlo Jose (of Magic 89.9), Sonny B. (of 99.5 RT/Hit FM/Play FM, 103.5 K-Lite & Davao’s 105.9 Mix FM), Monica (of 99.5 RT, 103.5 K-Lite & 101.9 Radio Romance) & North Andrew (of 99.5 RT), as well as the ones who are retained from BR, George Boone (of WXB 102, 99.5 RT, 97.1 WLS FM, 101.1 Kiss FM, Zoo 101.9, Kool 106 & 100.3 RJFM), Bob Novales (The Bug of 97.1 WLS FM, 89 DMZ & Kool 106) & Jun Sta. Ana (of LS predecessor DZXX, WXB 102 & 94.7 WLL).
BEFORE FM2 WAS BORN
Before talking about what happened during FM2’s first week of broadcast, the concept of FM2 (and FM1) can be traced from the time DU30 took over as President. Last July 2016, PCO Secretary Martin Andanar appointed Sonny B. as the Director of government-owned PBS. At the end of that month, Carlo Jose retired from the radio industry. Later on, Sonny drove him out of retirement to be the new head of PBS’ FM division. I wasn’t aware about the latter info until I recently heard his voice on the stingers.
A few days before Christmas was the time I heard about the FM2 brand. All the while, we thought FM2 will be the brand for 87.5, the frequency PBS bought. It turned out that we were wrong. On mid-January, George Boone made an announcement that BR would go off the air for the following week. This became a sign that BR would become FM2.
Last January 15, after almost 31 years on air, Business Radio signed off for the last time without any announcement. And it was off the air for more than a week due to technical adjustments. During the following week, BR had its test broadcast for only 3 separate days, which was kinda unusual for any test broadcast. It had its first test broadcast last Tuesday, for a few hours, and the next day, for the entire afternoon. It played classic hits, including a 3-song minimix at the end of every hour, along with the The New Republic teasers voiced by Carlo Jose. This made me remind of Magic’s old Friday Madness. Last Friday, Sonny B. (who boarded twice), Carlo Jose and George Boone had their warm up broadcast. And they often talked in between songs, especially promoting the station. Since the following day, it was off the air.
February 2 was the big day. I woke up as early as 5, waiting for 104.3 to be on air. I was prepared, just like looking forward to Retro 105.9 before. Come 5:32, it began with the last part of 38 Special’s Caught Up In You, followed by a set of 6 FM2 stingers and a few more songs. Come sign on, it aired a different version of the National Anthem & an updated sign-on notice voiced by Sonny B.
George Boone started the inaugural broadcast at 6am with Huey Lewis & The News’ Do You Believe In Love. He has a great music selection, with songs heard on RT & Kiss before. He used to host Fresh during Weekday mornings. Fresh played a mix of retro music and hot hits, which kinda reminds me of Kool 106. Every 55th minute of every hour in the morning, Grace (newscaster of Zoo 101.9) brings the latest news through News @ 55. It kinda reminds me of the newscast in Retro 105.9, though.
At 9am, Bob Novales went on air, using his old name The Bug. According to him, he’s known and unknown as the insect on our ear. He used to host Perk Ave. during Weekday afternoons. He made a joke on Jun Sta. Ana, saying he’s “not related to GenSanta Ana” and he repeated it around 2 more times.
Jun Sta. Ana took over this high noon. He used to host Morning Grooves during Weekday mornings. Some of the songs played that morning were played again in his program. Unlike the other DJs, Jun didn’t talk that much. I’m not sure if he was like this during his BR days since I rarely listen to it.
Since 3pm, FM2 played only automated music for the rest of the day. I expected Sonny B. to go on board. I later realized that he was in Baguio with the PCO officials. The BR mainstays reigned FM2’s 1st day of broadcast.
THE EXCITEMENT CONTINUES
Over the next few days, there were some surprises. And I thought Grace is FM2’s only lady newscaster. It later turned out that Shay, Claudine & Anjanette (formerly from Retro 105.9) also handle the newscasts as well.
On the next day, Monica went on air come 4pm. She was supposed to board an hour earlier. She didn’t talk that much, just like Jun Sta. Ana. One time, she even greeted Jada (formerly from Wave 89.1) & said she’ll be back on air soon.
Come Saturday afternoon, Sonny B. went on air, this time calling himself Sonny. He was the only DJ on board at that day. Unlike during the time FM2 was on test broadcast, his voice was now deeper, probably like the time during his stint with K-Lite.
Yesterday was the day all the 6 DJs went on board. And come 9am, Carlo Jose went on board. His playlist reminds me of Friday Madness, with him boarding on this day. During his 1st hour, he talked around 4 times, and during the following hours, he didn’t talk that much. I didn’t catch him during the last hour of his show since I was in class at that time.
9am this morning marked the return of North Andrew. Known as the best DJ of the 90s, he brought RT back on track. He described his comeback with his opening song, David Bowie & Queen’s Under Pressure. And a lot of people, including the longtime RT listeners, were tuned in. This was my first time tuning in to his program and I enjoyed it. His music selection was great, it gave me a scope of what he used to play back in the 90s.
The list doesn’t stop here. There are still more surprises to come soon.
Time to wrap things up. Retro 105.9 is no longer the Metro’s only retro station as it faces a new competition with FM2, despite having a lot of differences from each other. FM2’s retro playlist covers only the 80s & 90s, hence having a smaller music coverage than the Retro. Initially, it was quite similar to Friday Madness, some songs were played twice or more (it’s still like this during automation). However, after a few days, its playlist improved with more songs added to it, as well as some songs from the 70s. FM2 follows the “less talk, more music” feel, along with stingers, in which some of their lines resemble Friday Madness. And what’s interesting is that it is commercial-free.
Its hourly BBC newscast is the only mainstay segment from BR. Initially, every mid-hour, a song is interrupted in favor of BBC news, in which I find it annoying and surprising. It’s a good thing they got that fixed after a few days.
Unlike Retro, which gave us a fixed schedule for its pilot broadcast, FM2 left us with a lot of surprises for the first week. Given that the BR mainstays boarded on the 1st day, it was unknown when the other DJs will go on board. So, we tuned in for the next few days to check if any of them would go on board. The longer we wait, the more excited we get.
A year ago, I had a wish that BR would revamp as a retro hits station. And this wish finally came true. BR used to be the Metro’s only station which played standards & Big Band music. Since George, Jun & Bob joined the station a few years ago & played music not on its usual playlist, it was time the station needed a revamp. Congratulations to Sonny B., George Boone, Carlo Jose & the rest of the team for giving 104.3 a new life as a retro station. I’m very sure this station will last for a very long time. Next, FM1’s launch & Radyo ng Bayan’s rebranding.