Billboard Radio Monitor has confirmed that Cumulus Media''s Houston FM on 97.5 is going to be FM talk, perhaps with a news/talk skew, as a complement to the group’s rock KIOL on 103.7. Market manager Pat Fant declined to talk about the changes immediately, but the group''s Lori Kendrick confirmed the format choice for 97.5, adding that “a majority” of the lineup will be local-market personalities. 

It looks like an FM talker would be a unique position in the market; according to Billboard Radio Monitor research, the only talk or news/talk stations in the market (with ratings) are all on the senior band. 

Updated information from the Houston Chronicle:

Cumulus market manager Pat Fant said KFNC will offer something different from "grandpa''s AM news/talk station" with on-air personalities such as Craig Roberts, former sports anchor for KPRC Channel 2, and Jim Carola, former news director for KILT FM and AM and longtime public-address announcer for Houston Oilers and Houston Texans football games.

Also on board for local and national news are Martha Martinez and Laurie Kendrick.

FM News Channel 97.5 will offer early mornings with Mike Shiloh and Robyn Geske; 9 a.m.-noon with A.W. Pantoja and Martinez; noon-1 p.m. with Kendrick and Shiloh; 1-2 p.m. with Clark Howard''s syndicated consumer show; 2-5 p.m. with Jim Pruett, Brian Shannon and Roberts; 5-7 p.m. with Carola anchoring a full crew; 7-10 p.m. with Phil Hendrie; and overnight with The Dream Doctor.

Cumulus fired up its new 103.7 FM on May 2 and began simulcasting mainstream rock KIOL on that new frequency. 

The rock format on KIOL has been a heritage in the market on another frequency (under a different owner) as KLOL. Cumulus took over that brand heritage in late January and, most recently, has been simulcasting the two FMs with the ultimate plan to establish the heritage format on the 103.7. 

Earlier this month, Billboard Radio Monitor reported Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey saying that the 97.5 format would “complement [KIOL’s] rock format.” During that May 3 earnings conference call Dickey would only say that, “It may be a music format or it may be a talk format.” He did say, however, that the ultimate objective was to put the two FMs in complementary formats so that “we can tell a real story about targeting and delivering men.” His only other prediction was that the Houston FMs would become a “real revenue driver in 2006.”