Category: The State of Rock Radio
A multi-part RadioInfo series
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
Part 1: Rock Your World
LOS ANGELES — Whether valid or not, among the yardsticks by which a particular radio format’s prowess tends to be measured include its presence – and effectiveness – in major markets, as well as its ability to sustain direct, head-to-head battles.
With that in mind, consider this: In the seven largest Arbitronradiomarkets, no active rock station appears anywhere in the top 20 (6+, July 2012 PPM). Philadelphia (#8) is the first metro where there is a competitive active rock outlet, with Greater Media’s WMMR ranking seventh (5.4).
Furthermore, Atlanta and Phoenix can claim the only active rock battlegrounds in the top 25 markets; however, there is no market dominant (6+) player in either situation. To be more specific, in Atlanta, Clear Channel’s WKLS(3.1, #15, 6+, July 2012 PPM) has more than a two-to-one edge over Cumulus-owned WNNX(1.5, #19), while in Phoenix, Sandusky siblings KDKB and KUPD typically alternate for format honors. Results from July 2012’s PPM contest show KDKB notching a 3.0 (#14, 6+) and KUPD checking in with a 2.5 (#20).
An in-depth overview of THE SOUND in LA
Part 2: Difficult to Describe Sound
LOS ANGELES – One surefire way to ignite a spirited debate among rabid radio partisans is having them ascribe longstanding format categories to particular stations.
It will become instantly apparent that, particularly in the rock world, not all stations can be pigeonholed into one neat box.
Over the last 40 years, seven sets of call letters occupied the 100.3 dial position in Los Angeles, including KIQQ (1972-1989) and Westwood One’s much ballyhooed “Pirate Radio” (KQLZ, 1989-1993).
In March 2008, Bonneville acquired that frequency from Radio One for $137.5 million.
The following month, Bonneville jettisoned KRBV’s urban-flavored format at 100.3 and aired 10 consecutive hours of Bruce Springsteen tunes, dubbing the stunt “Bruce Radio 100.3,” before eventually giving way to its current “Sound” (KSWD) identity.
Part 3: Profits for Pioneering Programs
LOS ANGELES — To put it mildly, once a radio programmer manages to achieve success at the highest level of their craft, he or she can be faced with a gut-wrenching career decision.
In recent years – and at a stunningly high rate – that choice has been made for them, as we have witnessed many topflight programmers forced to take assignments in much smaller markets.
Naturally though, that does not always have to be the case.
At least two major market rock programmers we know of are enjoying life away from their accustomed big cities – as station owners.
Mendocino County’s Triple AOR
Boasting an approximately 30-year programming resume in Los Angeles and San Francisco (KSAN and KMPX), Tom Yates in the late-1980s yearned to accomplish what numerous colleagues of his strive for – breaking into upper management. “Weird deals were being done in radio,” the former program director of Los Angeles heritage rocker KLOS and KLSX recalls. “The only way I was going to be able to pull off, or to attempt to prove, what I think is right is to just do it myself.”
Part 4: DJs play key roll in rocker success
Tops For Talent
LOS ANGELES — All rock flavors were well represented in Jacobs Media’s recently completed eighth tech survey, which was expanded to include 12 formats.
A myriad of questions was posed as part of the forum, with none being more vital than the elementary: “What are the reasons for you to listen to broadcast radio?”
Respondents could select from a litany of choices to that query and as Jacobs Media president Fred Jacobs points out, in all cases across format lines, the desire to hear favorite songs is the #1 motivation for someone to use terrestrial radio.
Depending on format, personalities are either #2 or lower, until you come to rock, where Jacobs notes, there is a tie for first with favorite songs. “They expect a personality component,” he comments of rock listeners. “As we all know, music is available in a variety of different places other than ‘us.’ Often times, proprietary differences come down to everything else and personalities are a big part of that.”
Part 5: Respecting Rock’s Roots
LOS ANGELES — Use of “wunderkind” has become so hackneyed that it has nearly diminished its powerfully intended connotation.
Nevertheless, if ever that word applied, it would be for Allen Shaw, who – while only in his mid-20s – joined ABC Radio in June 1968 with the mysterious-sounding title of director of FM special projects.
Whatever designation the company wanted to ascribe to the previous assistant program director of Chicago’s WCFL though was fine with him.
At the time of Shaw’s hiring, ABC was allocating significant resources into the ABC television network as it was converting to color and was not funneling money to go live on its seven FM radio properties.
Part 6: Rockin’ the Ratings
LOS ANGELES — Ratings results of nearly 120 stations in four rock-associated format banners appear in this comprehensive RadioInfo overview. “Active rock” and “mainstream rock” are combined in one heading.
In order for a station to qualify, it needed to rank within the top 20 (6+) in any of Arbitron’s 48 PPM-measured markets in the most recent (July 2012) monthly report.
To enable you to get a handle on a station’s performance, 6+ stats over the last six (6) PPM monthlies are listed.
Considerable care was given to put each facility in the correct category, but with so many similarities among these particular format flavors, it is practically inevitable for there to be a disagreement or two regarding where a station best fits.
Eagle eyes will note a handful of other stations in these format classifications that would historically satisfy the (6+) top 20 ranking requirement are conspicuous by their absence. Such omissions most likely stem from a March 2012 de-listing issue Arbitron has with non-subscribing stations. Exclusion of those stations is beyond our control.