WKLH-FM rebrands itself as “Hometown Rock”


After nearly 30 years of billing itself as Milwaukee’s “classic rock” station, WKLH-FM (96.5) is rebranding itself as “Hometown Rock.”

The Saga Broadcasting owned station made the announcement Thursday in a release from “brand manager”Bob Bellini.

In the March A.C. Nielsen ratings survey the station ranked seventh among total listeners.

aFullSizeRenderHowever it ranked considerably lower in the 25-54 demographic over the past three months, suggesting it was not reaching its target audience or that the desired audience segment was shrinking. Also many listeners are abandoning traditional terrestrial outlets for music streaming services.

The change reflects an evolution in listener preferences from music of the 1970s to the 1980s, according to Bellini. The change is also intended to reflect pride in Milwaukee’s history, according to the release.

The station had not been counted in the ratings survey for the past six or seven years because Saga did not subscribe to the ratings service. But Nielsen and Saga recently reached an agreement in a copyright infringement case against the chain and Saga stations, including WHGQ, WJMR, and WRNG, began to appear in the monthly survey earlier this year.

According to the release:

“The evolution of classic rock continues on 96-5 WKLH-FM today as WKLH re-brands as HOMETOWN ROCK 96-5 WKLH. Milwaukee’s “HOMETOWN ROCK” 96-5 is packed with personality, texture and tempo. The music has an 80’s lean, a 70’s twist and a sprinkling of the unpredictable.

“Though it’ll sometimes ride outside the lines, “HOMETOWN ROCK” is true to its roots and purely authentic.”

“Bob Bellini, Brand Manager, said, ‘Our great, vast body of rock music is simply evolving with our listeners’ preferences. The center of gravity of WKLH’s brand of rock has been shifting from the mid to late 70’s into the 80’s, and this is a continuation of that shift. While “HOMETOWN” does reflect the classic rock especially popular among Milwaukeeans, it’s much more than that. Milwaukee has a gritty, determined personality, home to so many iconic brands, and a lot of pride in that history. ”

“HOMETOWN ROCK” simply reflects the enthusiasm for our city that we have experienced with our listeners throughout the years.” Milwaukee Radio Group VP/GM Annmarie Topel commented, “Milwaukee has so many signature products and brands—brands people love and are loyal to.

“But even popular brands have to reinvent themselves and respond to consumer preferences. WKLH is now brighter, richer, fresher and has more tempo.”


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