EVERY NOW AND THEN, I’VE HAD SOMEBODY TELLme that their station is doing next-generation Country – the one that finally downplays the ‘80s/’90s heritage artists whose current output is inconsistent in favor of those artists taking hold with 12-to-24-year-olds. Usually, the “new country” station turns out not to be so new, except in image. For many years, it was hard to “play the hits” and avoid a glut of current ballads or the same neutral-sounding gold as every other station.
But Clear Channel’s KSD-FM (The Bull) St. Louis,offered up by CC senior VP of programming Jon Zellner on the “Next Big Format” panel as a station that was already doing next-gen Country, does move things forward in a number of ways. The Bull, overseen by cluster OM and Top 40 veteran Mark Anderson, isn’t playing the current Reba McEntire and George Strait titles, except in overnights when the station takes CC’s Premium Choice programming. It’s at the 40% current mark that typifies the more aggressive large-market outlets. It takes a very CHR approach to artist separation, letting Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood both play twice within one of the hours I listened to. And the station also plays the “most requested song” at :00 that has become a staple of some CHRs in recent years.
There were definitely hotter sounding stretches on The Bull when I listened recently, and others where it played more like a Mainstream Country station that just happened not to play much Alan/George/Tim/Reba. It’s easier to do “New Country” convincingly today with the (far less ballad-heavy) available product without having to fire a shot across the bow at an older listener. There’s not a lot of presence here from the handful of younger-skewing artists that still scare mainstream Country PDs. Then again, you don’t hear a lot of Justin Bieber on a Mainstream Top 40 either. And it’s also hard to come up with a Country equivalent who really has an acid test record in play at the moment.
Here, with some help from BDSRadio, is The Bull at 10 a.m. on Oct. 2, beginning with the hour’s “most requested song.”
- Darius Rucker, “Come Back Song”
- Montgomery Gentry, “Lucky Man”
- Carrie Underwood, “Undo It”
- Blake Shelton, “She Wouldn’t Be Gone”
- Brad Paisley, “Anything Like Me”
- Clay Walker, “She Won’t Be Lonely Long”
- Lady Antebellum, “I Run To You”
- Kenny Chesney, “The Boys Of Fall”
- Frankie Ballard, “Tell Me You Get Lonely”
- Carrie Underwood, “Last Name”
- Brad Paisley, “Water”
- Zac Brown Band, “Whatever It Is”
- Little Big Town, “Little White Church”
- Lee Brice, “Love Like Crazy” (the next hour’s “most requested”)