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The Boston Globe

Music

Clear Channel converts 101.7 to country music format

The dance has ended for Evolution 101.7 (WEDX).

On Friday afternoon, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Boston announced that the radio station’s electronic dance music format would be replaced by country music under the moniker of “The Bull.” At 3 p.m., the outlet made the switch to “New Hit Country” and, for the rest of the summer, it will play music commercial-free.

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The EDM format will continue to live on the Clear Channel iHeart Radio digital service and online at www. evolution1017.com. The 101.7 signal was formerly home to the pioneering alternative rock station WFNX. When Clear Channel bought WFNX in 2012 it began broadcasting Evolution 101.7 from its Medford headquarters, which also house Kiss 108 (WXKS) and JAMN 94.5 (WJMN), among other outlets.

Dylan Sprague, vice president of programming for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Boston, said that Evolution had built up a vibrant digital audience, but he expected that country music would do well in the city.

“There’s a growing number of country fans in Boston, and we thought it was a great opportunity to keep Evolution on iHeartRadio and also bring something to those country fans at 101.7,” he said of “The Bull,” which will use WBLW as its call letters.

“People who didn’t think they were [country] fans 10 years ago now have an affinity, as these artists have really become mainstream,” said Sprague of the timing of the change. “You see that not just in Boston but everywhere.”

Indeed, country music is the number one radio format in the United States, and 25 percent of Billboard’s Top 40 Moneymakers of 2014 are country acts. Sprague said the station plans to target younger listeners with many of the contemporary superstar acts from that list, such as Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, and Carrie Underwood.

As for deejays, Sprague said, “We’re starting a comprehensive search right now for talent.”

The coveted morning drive slot, however, will be occupied by a syndicated program, “The Bobby Bones Show,” which is produced in Nashville. The show will begin airing sometime during the summer at a yet-to-be-determined hour, while the newly hired deejays will begin broadcasting after Labor Day, following the end of the commercial-free period.

“We really wanted to provide the Boston audience a chance to sample the product without any interruption,” said Sprague.

Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.
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