Jay Hitchen is the Program Director for CHAT in Medicine Hat, Alberta
What's in store for Country Music Radio in 2011?
[Jay] A metamorphosis. We have to reach out to a younger target audience or watch our own demise. The mean age for country is now somewhere around 47 and until a shift takes place that recognizes the value of the more mature consumer country must grow a new audience. We can continue to hold onto old ideals or forge a new path. This means a younger on air talent pool, one that understands the value of new technologies and can work around social networking as good as they can any public event. Artists that connect with this generation and can cross barriers that currently prevent country from becoming a mass appeal format.
What challenges did you face in 2010 and next year?
[Jay] Increased competition and decreased budget and consequently resources.
Your thoughts on the direction of the music and
Sonic Sound of Country Music Radio?
[Jay] I have no real idea where it is going to go but I can tell you what I’ve seen that is exciting. Jamey Johnson is putting some attitude back into country. I know it’s dark but I still fondly remember outlaw days. Will it catch on, I guess not but I sure wish it would. Jerrod Niemann has a ton of potential and that aloof drinking party music that has some substance can appeal even if it takes a while. Hope there is more down that well. Taylor Swift has put out one of the most brilliant albums of the year and I hope country isn’t so purest as to push her away. I know it can be very pop and this will no doubt give her a lot of AC/Hot AC exposure over the next year but so what. Country wants to be popular too. Jason Aldean is just waiting to happen. He can be gutsy with a ton of male appeal but seems to miss with women. Give this guy the right song and he’ll make it happen. Brad Paisley is a genius and will guide us on country’s true path over the next year. If we are somewhere between these the future will be pretty bright I think.