Cumulus Executive Vice President & Co-Chief Operating Officer John Dickey held a conference call this afternoon with the radio industry press to discuss the recent launch of the Nash Icon brand. Among the points discussed by Dickey:
Country is the last major format that has not fragmented. Mainstream Country is becoming more and more like CHR. Cumulus’ goal is to create a parallel universe for Country; an additional platform for artists prolific in mid 80s through early 2000’s to continue to produce new content and to become a repository for songs after they drop off the charts.
Nash Icon is to Country, what Hot AC is to AC.
Westwood One will begin offering Nash Icon to non-Cumulus stations in the fourth quarter of this year. They will use their Storq platform to customize the format for each station. Dickey expects lots of stations to join format by end of the year. He feels that many operators would rather have their own County niche than being an FM News/Talker, second or third AC, or Mainstream Rock station in a market.
Citing Detroit and Minneapolis as examples, shares of the format is growing with more competition He believes Nash Icon will accelerate that process by helping the industry to have “Superstars” back in the game.
Nash Icon is launching with a playlist that is 25% current although Dickey believes that could increase to as high as 40 percent once artists like Alan Jackson or Reba McIntyre will be creatively motivated to put out new product. The balance will be from the mid 80s through the 2000s. What you won’t hear is a lot of the current “Bro Country/Tailgate Rock” songs currently populating the Country charts.
These artists have lots in the tank, and have music they’ve been sitting because getting played on radio has become a dead-end street.
The Nash Icon record label is up and running. Announcements should be forthcoming in the next 30-60 days.
There will be a national Nash Icon morning show. It will be different than Blair Garner’s America’s Morning Show by being more interview driven almost like a living room chat. Dickey expects it to launch by the end of the year. No other daily national dayparts are expected.
Not going to be a format like Classic Country defined by being nostalgic. This is a very contemporary format in its own right.
Cumulus has what Dickey considers “a very well received piece of content” for weekends that they hope Mainstream Country stations will pick up as well launching in the not too distant future.
Why launching in fifteen markets versus one? “Its More proof of how confident we are that country is ready for fragmentation.”
As an aside in discussing stations that could willing to bail on their existing formats Dickey mentioned that other variants of Talk are going to come online.