During their quarterly earnings call yesterday, Radio-One CEO Alfred Liggins expressed doubts that the format has legs to keep growing in the ratings.
As Tom Taylor Now reported, Liggins stated that following launches for the format it “takes off like a rocket, then the ratings come to earth”. At the four stations that Radio-One flipped to Classic Hip-Hop in late 2014, three of them are already on a downward trajectory. “Boom 92” KROI Houston, which kicked off the format explosion following its October launch has already dropped from its peak of 3.2 share in the November Nielsen Audio ratings to a 2.5 in the Holiday monthly. KSOC Dallas and W275BK Atlanta (one of three translators in the market with the format) have also dropped from their launch peak. WPHI Philadelphia has been the exception so far, however sister Urban Oldies “Old School 100.3” WRNB has lost a quarter of its audience since “Boom 107.9” debuted.
Liggins took some thinly veiled shots at operators like Cumulus that have launched the format in markets where they do not have an existing Urban portfolio. He sees the format working as a complementary format in clusters where they have a current based hip-hop station to flank.
We launched this format and then everybody else followed us and started launching some places, we took competitors whether we took competitor in Indianapolis, we had a competitor already in St. Louis but they switch to this format. What I said about this format, this format takes off like a rocket and then the ratings come down to earth. That’s what happens with every last one of our stations. The question is are you better off than what you had before? Right. And so far for us that has true in the vast majority of cases, so we’re happy with it. But I do not believe that it’s a format that will maintain the level of initial audience and excitement that it gets. But for us it works because in most places we are operating multiple stations, so in most places we have a hip-hop station, so the idea that you have one mainstream contemporary hip-hop station and the classic hip-hop station is a great compliment and a bookend. So that’s very different and so you might just launch the classic hip-hop as a standalone without other urban stations to support it. So it’s a nice compliment in a clustered strategy for us. So I would see us to continuing to really nurture this format. But look a lot of people in the radio business are just like struggling for new ideas that they all jump on the bandwagon as a new idea. And we launched this new idea because we already had a hip-hop station and we needed to pin it off a competitor in Houston but I would like to see the guys in the radio business maybe try to figure out as opposed to just going to the next new format try to figure out and do a more competitive where are at in already competitive format battles. So the stations are pilfers stations are generally losing another competitor, what I found is that provided your signals are equal, it’s possible to battle to a draw even with the incumbent insurance player that’s been there a long time, if you put the resources and brain power and the timing to it. But people like to go for the next new shiny thing but again we are an urban radio operator.
So classic hip-hop is a new format for us that will be in our arsenal of many different urban formats and I think that we have got the ability to utilize it in the most efficient way, and I think for some of these folks that are just jumping on it, it will go up it will come down and then I’ll stuck with the classic hip-hop station and what are they do with it. That’s my thought.