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Real 106.1 on-air staff out, rebrands as ‘The Breeze’ in format change

Real 106.1 WISX has let go its on-air staff and dropped its throwback hip-hop hits programming in favor of Christmas music as part of a reported format change that began on Friday.

Chio Acosta and Shila Nathan have been let go from Real 106.1 amid a format change.
Chio Acosta and Shila Nathan have been let go from Real 106.1 amid a format change.Read moreFacebook / Real 106.1

Real 106.1 WISX is now known as 106.1 The Breeze following a format change that last week resulted in the ousting of the station's on-air staff, as well as the introduction of a temporary holiday music format.

Formerly a throwback hip-hop music station as Real 106.1, WISX will now focus on "a soothing blend of music" from artists like Whitney Houston, Chicago, Air Supply, and Adele, parent company iHeartRadio said via a release. An announcement regarding the newly rebranded station's on-air talent lineup is forthcoming.

"Listeners can now hear relaxing Adult Contemporary genre music that hasn't been played on the radio in years from their favorite artists," iHeartMedia Philadelphia president Nick Gnau said of 106.1 The Breeze via a release.

Former morning host Chio Acosta confirmed the change in a Facebook post on Friday, saying that he and cohost Shila Nathan were let go from the station as part of its refocusing. Previously, the station reunited Acosta with Nathan, who had not worked together on the air since 2012, following Acosta's exit from Wired 96.5. Acosta's time as a morning host in Philadelphia dates back to 2000, when he took over the morning slot at Q102 with cohost Diego Ramos.

Midday host Nicole Michalik, aka Nik the Web Chick, also posted on Instagram that she is "no longer with iHeartRadio Philly." Radio Insight reports that afternoon host Johnny V has also exited the company.

"The station is changing formats," Acosta said. "They're currently playing Christmas music, which is what a lot of stations do this time of year if they're going to change formats."

Launched in June last year, Real 106.1's throwback hip-hop format replaced the station's former "Mix 106.1" branding, which focused on hot adult contemporary music. Under the Real 106.1 brand, WISX billed itself as "Philly's Real No. 1 for Throwbacks."

Acosta helmed the change on-air last year, telling listeners to call in with song requests. Requests reportedly ranged from "It's So Easy" by Linda Ronstadt to "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. At the time, the host noted that there are "10 stations playing Taylor Swift. Do we really need another station playing that?"

The station's temporary change to Christmas music programming comes following the return of B101 last week. Formerly known as 101.1 More FM, the station, WBEB, brought back its old branding after five years under the More moniker. Online, the station refers to itself as "Philadelphia's official Christmas station," and is known for its yearly holiday programming.

"There is a huge appetite in Philly for a softer, relaxed sound, especially during the workday," 106.1 The Breeze vice president of programming Brian Check said. "I'm happy to say we're bringing 'The Breeze' to Philadelphia."