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This FM Radio Station in Metro Manila Is Losing All Its DJs and Staff

It’s the end of an era.
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It’s the end of an era for FM radio in Metro Manila. On May 11, 103.5 KLite announced that it is parting ways with its staff and DJs, although it did say that the station “will continue without us.” 

The announcement suggests that the station's key personnel were laid off, likely due to the effects of the pandemic, when many businesses have been cost-cutting and downsizing. The station reportedly went off the air in April last year during the government's first announcement of enhanced community quarantine. It resumed broadcasting in January this year, albeit on limited hours and on "automation mode," according to the station's Wikipedia entry.

“The music of 103.5 KLite has been a journey in itself, as much universal as personal, taking us along memories of school, relationships, and life, in general,” the announcement, which was posted on Twitter by a DJ from a sister radio station from Baguio, read.

A short history of 103.5 KLite

The radio station, whose official call letters are DWKX in Metro Manila, traces its history as far back as the late 70s, when it was opened and run by the government. It went through a few other call letters and changed management hands a couple of times throughout the 1980s and early 90s, until it was sold in 1995 to a group that operated several other radio stations. It was in that year when it first came to be known as DWKX, or, more famously, as 103.5 K-Lite.  

The station played adult contemporary music, which appealed to college-aged students and young professionals, but it also came to be known for its talk format. Featuring a lineup of diverse and highly opinionated DJs that hosted a range of thematic talk programs, KLite attracted an arguably more intelligent and more sophisticated listener base than other radio stations with more or less the same format at the time.

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It was this phase of KLite that many listeners look back on with fondness and nostalgia.

As with many other radio stations, KLite underwent several shifts in format, music, and target audience through the years. It was Heart 1035 (one-oh-three-five) for several months in 2007; then became 103.5 (one-oh-three-and-a-half) MaxFM, when it played dance music for a few years until 2010.

DWKX competed in the mass-based FM radio format in August 2010 when it relaunched as 103.5 Wow FM, changing its call letters to DWOW for a time. 

The “old” KLite that hardcore fans knew and loved “returned” on July 2013, changing its call letters back to DWKX. It took a while though before the station perfected its programming, initially playing a wide mix of pop-rock favorites from the 90s to the current period, then shifting to a purely Top 40 hits format, and then eventually landing on programming that played hits from the 90s and early 2000s.

For the college students and yuppies who grew up with the “old” KLite in the 90s, it was comforting to tune in to 103.5 today knowing that it would always be playing the old adult contemporary favorites from that era.

But fret not 103.5 fans. As the statement said, the station isn’t going off the air. Only that it’s DJs and staff won’t be there anymore.

It’s heartbreaking, but it’s yet another sign of the massive shift media distribution and consumption is experiencing. With on-demand streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify dominating music distribution, FM radio in general has lost a bunch of its listeners. And lately, many of those who tune in to hear their favorite DJs on talk radio also now face multiple entertainment choices that offer pretty much the same thing, like podcasts and voice chat apps like Clubhouse and Calamansi.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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