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Radio station Alice 102 switches to ‘upbeat’ format

Updated: 2014-02-11T23:48:16Z

By TIM ENGLE

The Kansas City Star

Alice doesn’t live in Kansas City anymore.

Radio station Alice 102 morphed into KC 102.1 on Wednesday afternoon, with an adult contemporary playlist reminiscent of how the station sounded when it was Star 102.

The station said the new format will have hits from the 1980s forward, including such artists as Maroon 5, Matchbox Twenty, Voodoo Dolls, Katy Perry, Madonna, Billy Joel, Sheryl Crow and Adele.

As Alice 102, the last songs the station (officially KCKC-FM) played were by Led Zeppelin, Imagine Dragons, Dave Matthews Band, Train and Semisonic (“Closing Time,” appropriately).

Starting Tuesday evening, a computerized female voice had counted down the hours, minutes and seconds until 3 p.m. Wednesday, when the new format was unveiled.

The first five songs played on KC 102.1: Pink’s “Get the Party Started,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.”

Early reaction online was, well, not exactly bouquets. From comments at KansasCity.com:

• “They debuted with Pink. Great. More music choices for the undiscerning in KC. I’m out.”

• “There goes my favorite station. Looks like I am going to have to switch over to 99.7.”

The new format seems to be geared toward workplace listeners. When the station signed on, a taped announcement mentioned the 980,000-plus people who “make this town run like clockwork.”

Promotions director Nikki Vivas said KC 102.1 is “going to be a really upbeat, exciting, very fun station. We see the demand for it.”

She said the sound will be livelier than the old Star 102, which “was a little sleepy at times.”

Alice 102’s AAA format (adult album alternative) appealed to “true music lovers” who listened “to the third and fourth cuts of an album,” Vivas said. The new format is “more mass appeal,” songs that everyone knows.

“We want to be on everyone’s dial,” Vivas says.

The station relaunched without DJs, but Vivas said the Alice air staff remains with the station, although shifts might be rejiggered.

As for Alice’s “Local Edition” show, which played local bands at 6 p.m. weekdays, that’s now history.

KCKC had been Alice 102 since January 2011, when it “flipped” from Star 102, an adult contemporary format that had just spent two months playing Christmas music.

When Alice was introduced, then program director Ed Walker promised an edgier, more uptempo playlist compared to Star 102: “You’re not going to hear Celine Dion,” he said.

In a statement, Wilks Broadcasting owner and CEO Jeff Wilks said: “KC 102.1 is familiar music that is upbeat and delivers a format that Kansas Citians have been asking for. Since the departure of two adult contemporary stations back in 2011” — that would be Star 102 and KUDL, 98.1 FM — “Kansas City has had a hole for this format, and we are excited to relaunch this brand.”

Wilks also owns hits station Mix 93.3 and country stations 94.1 KFKF and Q-104.

To reach Tim Engle, email tengle@kcstar.com. Twitter: tim_engle.

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