WBRK launches new format to grow audience

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PITTSFIELD — WBRK has put more local talent and programming back in local radio.

The Berkshires' first radio station has solidified a new format being simulcast on WBRK-1340 AM, which debuted in 1938, and the county's newest FM station, The Peak, K97.1, according to Chip Hodgkins, president of WBRK Inc.

The downtown Pittsfield broadcasters launched The Peak in early February and spent the next two months getting plenty of feedback from listeners as the format was adjusted to gain new listeners and benefit advertisers.

"The format is a hybrid of modern adult contemporary to reach an audience from 25 to 35 [years old], to way on up," Hodgkins told The Eagle.

A third station, WBRK-FM Star 101.7, is unaffected by the change and will continue to target a younger audience.

WBRK-AM/The Peak moves forward with a good mix of veteran and young on-air personalities along with locally produced shows complemented by established syndicated programming.

Weekday morning host Len Bean leads the way from 6 to 9 a.m. Bean also hosts the 1340 Club, classic radio on Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon.

"He'll play everything from big band music to Elvis to comedy bits like Abbott and Costello," Hodgkins said.

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Evan Valenti's popular sports talk show has been expanded to four mornings: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, from 9 to 10 a.m.

In all, the trio of stations has 10 full- and part-time people on the air. Hodgkins plans to add more on-air talent.

Connor Ryan joined the staff three years ago, having never done radio. Ryan, a musician with the local band Lindsay and Four One Trio, is enjoying his newest on-air gig he hosts each weekday.

"We have an all-request lunchtime from 12 to 2, and as we started doing it, people said, 'Thank you,'" said the Pittsfield native.

WBRK will continue to carry the CBS Radio Network for world and national news and late-night "The Jim Bohannon Show" from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

In May, Hodgkins looks to add the nationally syndicated show "Delilah," which airs from 7 p.m. to midnight. Delilah Rene is a songwriter and author best known for her song request and dedication radio program airing on nearly 300 stations.

The right mix of current and newly slated programming, Hodgkins says, will separate WBRK from the rest of the local radio.

"We feel that it will distinguish us from our competitor, which is the third largest media chain in the country, by remaining community-based," he said, referring to Townsquare Media. Townsquare owns seven stations in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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