Running down this week’s top stories and with some thoughts.
Clear Channel’s Hot AC “Mix 96.9” KMXP Phoenix is the defacto Alternative station in that market and the new Variety Hits “She 103.5” will fill that role in Miami along with a few others. Sister Classic Rock “Big 105.9” WBGG is the only Rock outlet in the market, there’s no traditional Hot AC, and the Classic Hits station has been hurt by the Soft AC. This gives She a potentially wide hole of 80s, 90s, and 2000s Pop/Rock to call its own. Will that exclusivity be a boon or a bane for a station that has gone through many identities since the original She died in 1996.
CBS usually registers domains months in advance of possible flips, as they are being discussed on the corporate level. Anything they are planning is still weeks away if there is any change at all. But Clear Channel’s registration of SoftRock971.com and 971TheBull.com last fall shows how much clusterization has changed the game. KEGL is a pawn to protect the rest of Clear Channel’s stations. If the status quo changes then 97.1 will change as well. Gone are the days of every station programming to win. If a company is stating this station doesn’t mean as much as the others than why should the audience commit to it?
The return of Alternative to Cleveland via translator isn’t going to change the market dynamics at all. It’s an easy sales combo within the cluster and if it gets a small percentage of disenfranchised listeners of the format back to terrestrial radio it has done its job.
Younger Rock audiences have been the most likely to seek out alternative means of programming. Conservative Talk’s move to FM has not brought younger listeners to the format. Sports talk has been one of the few male oriented formats to show growth on FM in recent years. The additions of South Bend, Fort Wayne, and Lafayette LA are just the latest. Tampa looks to be on the way and more will keep on coming. Eventually it will be hard to find a market without a Sports talker on FM. Now how long until another younger skewing Talk format is developed to flank it?