… And The Best Positioning of Today
Despite the pedestrian nature of many current radio station positioners, and my fears that they’re making radio sound small at the wrong time, I’m still able to find some current ones that stand out for me.
I liked KROQ Los Angeles’ “Alternative First,” a slogan which it is now playing down, in tandem with going more gold-based again. That liner simultaneously claimed the music discovery position and asserted the station heritage against KYSR (Alt 98.7).
I like that stations want to be “Number One for Music Discovery.” But I often hear it next to the song that is already a sub-power on a station and has been playing for 13 weeks—because if that slogan were used on music that was truly new, stations could use it only about eight times a day. It also takes something personal and joyful like music discovery and couches it in radio-speak. An even better stager would be: “Z109: Have You Heard This?” But only on songs where the listener can’t respond, “Yeah, about seven months ago.”
(Reader Kevin Quinn adds that he’s “pretty proud of ‘Where Houston Meets Music,’ used as a secondary positioner for his employer, 104.1 KRBE.” “From the brilliant mind of our PD, Leslie Whittle, it so clearly defines us as the place listeners can go to not only hear their favorite songs but interact with the artists.” And IMGR’s Chris Nicoll cites BBC Radio 1’s “Where It Begins” handle for their adventurous Top 40 mix” as well as Nova Australia’s current “Live Life.”)
I like “positive and encouraging,” the slogan used in some form throughout Christian AC, including the K-Love network. “Positive and encouraging” has pushed “safe for the whole family” to secondary sell status. And, for me, it better encapsulates what makes the format more than just “soft favorites of yesterday and today” to its listeners.
I like WKLH Milwaukee’s “Hometown Rock 96.5.” Just as sister WLZR used “Everything That Rocks” as a way of broadening its Active Rock format a decade ago, the new slogan entirely untethers WKLH from its old “Classic Hits” position. Interestingly, WKLH seems to be channeling those stations in shadow markets that used to position itself as, say, Ann Arbor’s own.” But today, as radio becomes increasingly national, hometown pride can be for anybody.
(The original version of the positioner hasn’t gone away, either. Drew Walker cites “locally owned and operated WLGE Sturgeon Bay, Wis., with its promise of, “Credible Artists, Incredible Tunes. Door County’s own FM 106.9, the Lodge.”)
I’ve gotten worn out by era-based positioners, but I like hearing CHBM Toronto sell “’70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, Boom! 97.3,” because of the attention-getting way that the station name punctuates what would otherwise be a laundry list.
Like a lot of readers, what I often notice is the little flourishes, not necessarily the chief positioning statement. A few years ago, I once heard WHTZ (Z100) New York use a listener drop identifying the station as home of “the current music.” Because while “current” was once the most inside of inside words, it made more sense now that keeping current with today’s music had become more of an issue with adults.
iHeart Radio’s Tony Coles had already mentioned it from the dais at the Radio Show panel we did together last September, but what I remember from my last listen to KHKS (Kiss 106.1) Dallas is not “Dallas/Fort Worth’s Hit Music,” but the “Texas, Y’all” thrown in at the end of the legal ID. And now sister KHFI (Kiss FM) Austin is using it as well.
Then again, “Texas” is long established as a sort of positioner unto itself. As a late ‘90s phenomenon, KPLX used “Texas Country” as its chief slugline, although I had to be reminded of it. What I remember was the station’s “Code of the Wolf” promos, in which nurturing the young and respecting your elders were described as station values.
It was also on iHeart Dallas’ new KDGE (Star 102.1) that I heard host Rick O’Bryan, doing a music teaser as part of the :00 ID, declare that “music variety means everything from Kelly Clarkson to Prince and Rihanna.” I don’t know if that was structured, or just an individual personality’s creativity. And when I featured the break in my Radio’s Best & Worst column, some readers wrote that it didn’t sound much like variety to them at all. But I thought it was so much better than “coming up, music from.”
I’m expecting readers to tell me that this doesn’t seem like a particularly long list to them. Maybe it’s because of a paucity of fresh ideas. Maybe it’s because some stations feel they can move away from slug lines and use listener testimonials. The new KROI (Radio Now 92.1) Houston doesn’t have a main positioner, but debuted with consistently clever stagers, many of them built around the current buzzword “lit.”
Normally, I’m always afraid of being reminded of synapse lapses and sins of omission, but if readers chime in with more of their favorites, or remind me of some of mine that I’ve forgotten, it will be encouraging because it means that more creativity exists. For now, here are some existing listener favorites.
RadioInsight publisher Lance Venta writes, “I like the ‘Different Is Good’ positioner used by Saga’s Triple-A stations off the top of my head. Also, Alpha’s We 96.3 Portland, Ore., tying the word “We” into everything they do. And it’s sad that’s all that comes to mind in terms of what I’ve heard recently.” Reader Marty Butler also mentions WRSI Springfield, Mass., and its use of “Different is Good.”
Ian March of Rogers/Kingston, Ont., offers Urban AC CKFG (G98.7) Toronto’s “The Way We Groove.” He also liked the just-announced slogan for the U.K.-based online station targeting builders and tradesmen: “Fix Radio: We’re Nailing It.”
Toronto area CKGE (94.9 the Rock) MD Bob Willette is the former PD of Toronto’s LGBT-targeted “Proud FM,” positioned as “Unlike Anything You’ve Heard.” “Our research showed that it resonated with our audience. They took pride in listening to something different that was specifically for them and their community. As an ally I am still a fan of that positioner.”
WJFX (Hot 107.9) Fort Wayne, Ind., PD Robbie Mack mentions sister WBTU (US93.3) and its “get your country on.” (Tom Lawler notes that his employer, WRNS Coastal N.C., is also “Your Country,” with its focus on the listener and not the station.) Mack also likes the “Better Music for a Better Workday” slogan used by many of the Entercom ACs and throughout the Mainstream AC format.
Al Moss cites Nashville’s WMOT, a station that I really should have included in “Intriguing Stations of 2016” for its commitment to full-time Americana in the format’s capital. Their slogan, “Americana Deep and Wide” is “a totally accurate description . . . they sound fabulous.”
Also: Triple-A WXPN Philadelphia’s “Curated, not Encoded.” – Scott Lowe;
“In Austin, Texas, we’re ‘The Capital of Classic Hits.” – 105.3 the Bat’s Drew Bennett;
PD Jimmy Fink notes that Triple-A WXPK (the Peak) Westchester County has, for a while, been twisting the format’s best known positioner: “World Class Rock for New York’s backyard—yeah, we live here, too.” I love the Peak, and one of the best things about it is that the mix of eras and styles could never be encapsulated into a typical slug line.