Words & Deeds

Boise FM radio station flips format to ‘something big’ after decades playing country

There’s one less radio station playing country music in Boise this morning — and one more option for dentists to pipe into their offices while yanking teeth.

KQFC 97.9 FM flipped formats at 8 a.m. Monday and became Magic 97.9, a soft adult contemporary, or AC, station. The first few easy-rockin’ acts played were The Police, Toto, James Arthur and The Pretenders. Others on the playlist include Simple Minds, Journey, Madonna, the Doobie Brothers and Earth, Wind & Fire. After decades of country, KQFC’s imaging now declares that “the magic is in the music.”

Leading up to the flip, a promotional loop on 97.9 FM teased that “something big” and “really cool” was coming. Radio personalities also urged listeners craving country to spin that dial over to Kissin’ 92.3 FM: “If you’re wondering where’d the country music go? Don’t worry — we gotcha.”

Precisely how “big” and how “cool” Magic 97.9 might sound to Idaho listeners could hinge on: 1) How long they’ve been alive, because most of the acts on the playlist aren’t current; and 2) How long they’ve been alive in the Treasure Valley, because new or not, the “Magic” name is old to longtime Idaho listeners. Boise had a younger-skewing Top 40 station for years called Magic 93.1. That frequency now airs sports-talk station KTIK The Ticket.

Reinventing KQFC-FM was a logical strategy for station owner Cumulus Media, which also owns Kissin’ 92.3. Operating competing country stations made little sense. And Nielsen ratings for KQFC had dropped dramatically from the station’s heyday.

Even in a radio market as crowded as Boise’s, it’s surprising that it took this long. Arguably, Magic 97.9 offers the one sustainable niche format lacking in the Boise area, since 107.9 Lite FM is closer to a Hot AC station.

Magic 97.9 listeners will hear Lisa Adams on weekday mornings with Mike Kasper handling news, then Bret Connor during afternoons.

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman, where he also has been a sportswriter, entertainment editor and features editor. Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.