Earlier today, Clear Channel broke its AM/FM simulcast in Tucson to launch “Wild Country 97.1“. The News/Talk format remains on 790, yet as I write this ten hours after the format change the station is doing is hardest to keep the information about the change secret.
There was no advanced notice of the change on-air which is par for the course these days. However, if you were to go to KNST.com you won’t see any information in regards to the disappearance of 97.1 from the simulcast. In fact you’ll still see 97.1 included in the station logo as do the on-air promos still running on the station.
The KNST Facebook page (and all of its Clear Channel Tucson sister stations) has a generic promo banner for the new format yet nothing explaining the changes to the existing listeners. KNST added the 97.1 simulcast in November 2011 to expose the programming to listeners unlikely to discover it only on AM. While it obviously didn’t get enough of them to keep the simulcast going wouldn’t it be in the best interest to ensure they follow them back to 790 or IHeartRadio.com or wherever to keep them loyal to the station? Otherwise they’re just handing them over to the competition on a silver platter.
Stations use imaging to pound an identity into listeners heads. In one second that identity was rendered useless yet unlike a regular format change where you usually don’t care where the old listeners go, KNST still exists. The station will still be expected to generate listeners to convert into ratings and then revenue. By not guiding the listeners of KNST immediately back to 790, Clear Channel is easily telling the advertisers of 790 that they’re no getting what they paid for.
This is a simple concept. You have web and social media extensions of your stations for a reason. Use them. Control your message and content. There’s no excuse to not have new promos cut ahead of time even if the new format was created and launched out of market. These things should all be taken into account any time you make even the smallest of programming changes.