ALT 99.1 FM Broadcasting Speeches by Malcolm X and other Black Leaders in Advance of a Format Change

ALT 99.1 FM Broadcasting Speeches by Malcolm X and other Black Leaders in Advance of a Format Change (2)
ALT 99.1 FM, Cleveland's Rock Alternative, has been broadcasting speeches by prominent current and historical Black leaders in anticipation of a new format announcement reportedly coming Tuesday at noon.

Called "stunting" in the radio industry, 99.1's sudden content shift is a publicity maneuver to generate curiosity and excitement.

Speeches, including Malcolm X's famous "Ballot or the Bullet" speech delivered in Cleveland in 1964, have in fact been broadcast on 15 iHeartMedia radio stations across the country, all of which are low performers in their individual markets. ALT 99.1 is the only Cleveland station affected.

The announcement of a format change is expected later today. reported that Radio Insight learned that iHeartMedia had registered the domains "," "," and "" last week, suggesting that the new format could be news and talk radio aimed at the Black community.

Indeed, iHeartMedia has just launched BIN: Black Information Network, which, in addition to being a standalone news network within iHeartMedia, will provide news and commentary for iHeartMedia's 91 Hip Hip, R&B and Gospel stations.

“[BIN] will fill a void by providing continual news and objective information with full focus on the Black community,” said iHeartMedia's (and BIN's new President) Tony Coles. “We began developing our 24/7 Black news source last year, and events of the last few weeks, especially the senseless and tragic death of George Floyd, highlighted the need for this network. Now is the time for our voice to be heard, and I could not be more proud of our work and the team we are assembling at BIN.”

The format change at 99.1 is one of two significant Cleveland radio stories this week. The local Spanish-language station 87.7 "La Mega" is going 100 percent digital Wednesday. It turns out 87.7 FM has actually been broadcasting on the audio bandwidth of a television channel, and the station has been "on borrowed time" since the advent of digital TV.

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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