Thursday, June 4, 2009


The comments have been coming in for years, I remember hearing them when I first started programming Country radio, some 11 years ago in Allentown, PA. What if Rock radio quit playing AC-DC, Rush and Van Halen, or Classic Hits said "No more Fleetwood Mac and Elton John" - We play so much pop-Country that listeners can't hear the real or true Country that is logically part of the sound structure. "What happened to the good old country?" "You don't play the good singers anymore" "I don't like all those new songs and new singers" It's gotten to the point now, like Jaye Albright says "You are adding to the perception of this" if you don't keep it Country. Check out this poll from Does today's Country music favor pretty people? Yes 69% 57,645 It depends 17% 13,687 No way 14% 11,806 Total Votes: 83,138 Which kind of Country music do you prefer? I like both! 43% Traditional country 39% Today's country 18% Total Votes: 89,305 Researchers Joel Lind and Leigh Jacobs, when we were all in Clear Channel saw it in countless research studies, too many new songs, more than CHR and AC for a 25-54 demo to swallow. What begins to happen is "Were mad as hell and were not gonna take it anymore". Howard Beale was right. Lind and Jacobs also saw respondents to research in Country radio being kind and not wanting to up-set the apple cart with their research comments. My opinion, I think they like the new artists if they sing country. Now they are getting vocal - They hate "pop Country". Oh, we thought we could offer a format called New, The Known and The Legends and it would be the next better mouse trap - It's a two share format. Problem: It's presented like mainstream Country with very few exceptions.. Too 35+ male focused as well. How do we take the second Country station in any market, that sounds like it's competitor and turn them around as the new lifegroup and image leader. Jay Walker our PD at KTTI sent me this great article in Newsweek. Check out one of the great responses in the blog: There is no mystery here. Hank Williams is dead, and Rascal Flatts is not. Like it or not, both of those artists are an undeniably real and true reflection of the American culture of their time. The truth is out there, right in front of our eyes - the only way to get around it is to pretend not to notice it. America used to be Hank Williams, and it turned into Rascal Flatts. We are getting what we deserve... and it's arriving in the form of what we have allowed. TRUE COUNTRY is the key, a new format that takes into account real Country and doesn't play Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts or Jimmy Wayne. Focused on currents that sound Country. Real simple process if it doesn't sound Country, it doesn't get played. I have nothing against Rascal Flatts or Taylor Swift - They propel the format. But the average member of the active Country lifegroup over the age of 35 will tell you, they hate them. Why do we play music that people don't want to hear? - We use to have an adage, you don't get hurt with what you don't play. What would a TRUE COUNTRY hour look like? WRITE THIS DOWN - George Strait DON'T THINK I CAN'T LOVE YOU - Jake Owen GOD LOVE HER - Toby Keith BOOTS ON - Randy Houser RED DIRT ROAD - Brooks and Dunn FAST AS YOU - Dwight Yoakam BACK WHEN I KNEW IT ALL - Montgomery Gentry SIDEWAYS - Dierks Bentley WHERE I COME FROM - Alan Jackson SHUTTIN' DETROIT DOWN - John Rich DUST ON THE BOTTLE - David Lee Murphy FAMILY TRADITION - Hank Williams Jr. OUT LAST NIGHT - Kenny Chesney The imaging would highlight the fact, "This is where the TRUE COUNTRY plays", "We don't know why WXXX let the TRUE COUNTRY getaway", TRUE COUNTRY that was born in a barn and not a boardroom". Of course all this is just conjecture for an article, who knows if this would fly, even on a second Country station. We are in the need for something different and this would be a better course than a legends format or a 18-34 current based format. As always, your thoughts and ideas are welcome to keep our format growing.
FRIDAY WE TALK ABOUT THE FRIDAY VIBE - Rick Stacy at Power 99 in Atlanta and other great CHR PD's were the catalysts for the "high-vibe day" concept.


  1. Does this new format not play any female artists? Because as I remember, traditional country included the likes of Loretta, Tammy, Dolly, Patsy, Barbara? Female artists have always been a part of country music in each era/decade of its history. Is True Country a recurrent/gold format? or more an argument with music row about production sensibilities. Remember how much push back we heard from 35+ demos about playing non classic rock artists (new rock) since we started doing research. Ultimately it created niche formats.
    Keep the blogs coming, it's so important to think/talk about this all.


  2. Mag - It does, should have included Gretchen Wilson, Judds and non-pop femnale acts.

  3. Sounds like a male leaning flanker for an established "pop" country. As I see it, the problem is, you can't drastically mix eras without totally disenfranchising the audience. You'll have a station that will always be a P2.

    Two things scare me. One is the term "hybrid" and the other is the phrase, "we'll stay away from the mainstream and carve out a niche." Both are often uttered by consultants and both result in radio stations with no ratings.

  4. RW - Good point, the music hour isn't the best example, remember that's it more about the presentation and the image than the music. What if TRUE COUNTRY used text-book dayparting and played mainstream after 3p and 90's before 3p?

  5. PLEASE! Don't attribute that niche format crap to consultants. The smart ones know better. The dumb ones don't know what it means....Niche formats come from overcrowded marketplaces or format leaders trying to cover their 6....

    From Bob Glasco

  6. Oh, yes the most important ingrediant about this successful station, no matter what you call it. Is it entertaining/compelling, and fun to listen to.

    Everybody knows a great radio station when they hear one, very few know how to create one.

    Austin Keyes

  7. Thanks Austin - We need to create a full throttle approach to radio - What happened to the KFRC's, Z-100's, Power Pig's, Cat Country's of the world? - The corporate phantoms sucked out all the juice.

  8. Folks, did you see the posts in AAC and AA for BLUE COLLAR RADIO? - They will sell you a format like TRUE COUNTRY for $999. It includes everything.

  9. Chuck--
    Have you seen the first pre-currency PPM's from Seattle? REALLY interesting. Heritage KMPS drops from a perrennial #1 to #8--and here's the most interesting part: they're now in a TIE with KKWF (Scott Mahalick's Wolf), a station that has never gotten into the Top 10, let alone come within 3 shares of KMPS.

    I've been beating this dead horse for years: we can't all play the same 300 songs and expect to get any legitimate TSL. People are furiously punching trying to hear something that doesn't bore them to death.

    We need to keep an eye on the Seattle PPM's...and Denver is up next in the Fall--KYGO could be in for a bad surprise as KWOF gets a PPM kiss.

  10. John - I did see they were tied. Denver station has a signal issue though. CG