Say hello to South Florida's newest radio alternative.
Say hello to South Florida's newest radio alternative.
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104.3 the Shark Plays All the Alt Hits You Loved in High School

If you've recently tuned in to 104.3 FM, you were probably surprised to find that the voices of Dan Le Batard and Stugotz have been silenced, replaced by the sounds of Beck and the Butthole Surfers. Listen a little longer and you'll hear Cake, MGMT, and Florence + the Machine too.

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Congratulations. You, fellow frustrated music junkie, have discovered South Florida's new alternative music radio station, the Shark.

While you can still get your sports fix with Le Batard and his infamous rants on AM 790 the Ticket, 104.3 is now home to the only mainstream radio station in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach playing alt hits that would make your high-school self shriek like an emotional eagle.

"It's built for South Florida," explains Douglas Abernethy, vice president and general manager at Entercom Miami, the company behind the Shark. "Everything is customized to what people want to hear.

"We'll play [all sorts of alternative music], '90s alternative, a little grunge, and even some '80s classics like Depeche Mode and New Order," he says. "There's gonna be more of a beat to it than most alternative radio stations."

After a nearly yearlong legal battle with the Department of Justice, Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications — which also owns more than a hundred top-market radio stations across the nation — finally reached an agreement with the DOJ to acquire Lincoln Financial Group, the entity that previously owned 101.5 Lite FM, Magic 102.7 FM, and the aforementioned 104.3/790 the Ticket.

Like a great white on the prowl, the Shark unexpectedly took a bite out of South Florida's radio waves the morning of Friday, August 21.

"We're playing 5,000 songs in a row without interruption," Abernethy says. "We have a very tight list right now just to give people a sample. We want everyone to have that new-car smell and give them a dose of how the new car is going to run."

The unveiling of the Shark may have happened overnight, but the alt-music station is the product of extensive research on Entercom's part.

"[The Ticket] had a huge sports brand image on 790 the Ticket," he explains. "FM wasn't bringing a lot to the table to help the brand, so we thought about launching a new radio station.

"We hired Edison Research — they're the be-all and end-all in media research — [to conduct] a perceptual study and test everything in the market. We started testing music and found there's a huge appetite for what we're doing right now [alternative music]."

Despite the change in programming, Abernethy points out that "nobody lost a job [and that Entercom is] actually hiring and not letting people go." He also takes credit for coming up with the station's moniker.

"The name of the station, we had so many different things," he recalls. "At one point, we were gonna call it 104 the X. At 3 in the morning, it popped into my head: the Shark. There are the Dolphins and Marlins. Why can't there be the Shark?"

After the name was decided, all that was left for Abernethy and the Shark crew was to deliver the soundtrack South Florida had been waiting for.

"It's a huge void that has been here, and hopefully we're building a radio station that's catering to that appetite. We'll just call them Shark bites," he jokes. "We plan on marketing the station and will continue to research. As musical tastes evolve, we'll be the music source, outside of hip-hop and pop; we'll be the source for breaking new music."

David Aleman, an avid fan of the station who sent an email requesting that New Times cover 104.3, says, "I've heard Sublime, Beck, the Foo Fighters, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the station, but I've also heard Panic at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and Avicii. I'll continue listening as long as they don't play any Creed or Nickelback, though."

"I will tell you right now," Abernethy promises, "Creed or Nickelback is not on our playlist."

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