Flow 93.5 rebrands as retro pop station

Flow 93.5 has a new name and a new-ish programming direction.

On Monday, February 29, the radio station rebranded as 93-5 The Move, marking the latest evolution in CFXJ-FM’s 15-year history. It launched as a hip-hop (or “urban contemporary”) station before becoming a top-40 pop station and (as of last year) a classic hip-hop/R&B station, with recent pop hits by Taylor Swift, the Weeknd and Drake mixed in.

Owner Newcap Radio, which bought the station and sister network Boom 97.3 from Bell Media in 2013, rebranded as The Move to reflect the station’s new emphasis on throwback pop hits from the 1990s and 2000s.

“The Flow brand was overwhelmingly known for street hip-hop and old-school R&B, and playing pop under that umbrella was just not gonna work,” operations manager Steve Parsons tells NOW. “We were capped in terms of how far we could go, popularity-wise, with that brand. We needed to change things up to introduce a little bit of pop into the mix.”

Since competitors like Virgin, CHUM and KISS are focused on reeling in 18-to-24-year-olds with current pop music, Parsons sees an opportunity to go after the slightly older 25-to-34 demographic.

“We think there’s a greater opportunity to excel ratings-wise in that demo,” he says.

Listeners can expect to hear more Michael Jackson and Prince hits than before, as well as Madonna, No Doubt, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Lady Gaga, Love Inc., Katy Perry and Flo Rida, among others.

Asked if the added focus on top-40 pop stars would mean less hip-hop, Parsons says, “Less hip-hop is probably a slightly misleading statement. 

“There’s going to be as much hip-hop, but there will be more pop,” he explains, adding that The Move will retain 75 per cent of Flow’s programming, which included older hip-hop hits. “What we will play less of is contemporary hip-hop.”

A recent playlist includes past hits by Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Deborah Cox, the Rascalz, Bell Biv Devoe, Stars on 54, Jay Z, Kanye West, Divine Brown, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston and Sean Paul, as well as more recent songs by Ed Sheeran, the Weeknd, Nicki Minaj, Classified, the Chain-smokers, Justin Bieber and Chromeo.

Though JJ, Mastermind and Peter Kash are still with the station, three female on-air personalities – Megan Coady, Melanie Martin and Miss Ange – were laid off. Meanwhile, J’Ness moved to a sister station in Ottawa prior to the rebrand.

Parsons says the gender disparity is a temporary situation.

“We have plans to hire other staff that we’re unable to comment on right now,” he says. “Having a gender mix is extremely important, so we’re working on that.”

A previous version of this story stated J’Ness was among the staff impacted by the rebrand.

music@nowtoronto.com | @nowtoronto

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