Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back to the Dial

I haven't written about radio for awhile, as my last post about it came back to bite me. It helped clarify what I can and can't write about. Personal moves: out. Generic commentary: in. Let's go.

The latest ratings trends are out and in the country race, such as it is, KWNR is soundly beating Coyote. My thoughts have already been written about why I think Coyote continues to flounder, so I won't bore you with those. KWNR's numbers are nothing to celebrate, either. They used to be a market leader, and now are a ratings afterthought. They can tout how they have a sizeable advantage over Coyote, but that would be like a pitbull boasting over mauling a poodle. It's meaningless. What's most noticeable to me this trend is how low the market share has become for country music in Las Vegas. Add up the share between Coyote and KWNR and you get a 6. A 6 rating for KWNR in the past used to be cause for concern. Now, it's the total share. Why are the country numbers dipping?

Country music has always done better with older listeners than younger listeners. Both suffering bosses at KWNR and Coyote are trying to recapture that younger audience and that's causing the older audience to go away. The younger audience WILL NOT come back to country radio. Radio needs to strengthen their base listeners and instead does everything in its power to alienate them. At 42, I don't consider myself old, but I would rather hear something mature from George Strait or Reba than some teenage angst from Taylor Swift. There's less and less out there that's identifiable to me, and for the new stuff that is, I feel like I've heard it all before.

We have more talent contest winners and prime time wannabes cutting music that they didn't write. And it's so predictable. If Carrie Underwood releases a "fun" song, you can bet the next song will be soft or sad. She's a sweet thing, but she belongs more on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine than on a concert stage. Don't get me started on Kellie Pickler or Julianne Hough (she was on "Dancing with the Stars", in case you forgot). Country music is choosing style over substance at the worst possible time and listeners are fleeing.

There's nothing wrong with radio that can't be fixed by simply serving the customer better. It works in every other business, yet only in radio do the bosses seem too stubborn or stupid to address the obvious.

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