Itís been an interesting week for Jacksonville radio and shaking things up is just what this market needed. With shake ups comes audience realignment and even more important, opportunity to be even more inclusive. This is not a usual corporate goal but one I believe is a critical piece in the success puzzle.
We all knew the Point would evolve into something else. Obviously we werenít sure what that would be. It could have been an enhancement to the former format to include more pop and soul of the 80s decade or they could have ventured into new territory which they wound up doing. There was a time they could have positioned themselves more along an AC hybrid but the market has changed and circumstances have changed as well.
When Planet gained L&T and got a better signal as result and had a unique sound, it wasnít rocket science to conclude they were positioned to increase audience share. As is usually the case, competition is born to share cume and build audience and with it, revenue. So really, what happened over at 102.9 isnít surprising.
The Cox Radio cluster has been given a much needed B-12 shot that has finally given needed individual station identity to Rock 105, Eagle and now x1029. CHOICE now exists and this will prove to be a WIN-WIN for both corporate and finally the listener. The majority of the former Pointís listeners will move over to Eagle strengthening that stationís position. This could prove to open up future format opportunity that Iíll get into further down the post.
The overall reaction from postings on the various boards has been positive from those who know and appreciate the genre of music at x1029. While not scientific, a family friend who isnít too keen on radio as is (male, 28) and usually listens to Planet commented favorably on what he was hearing as we were all listening in the car heading out to dinner. This guy doesnít like anything so his ďthumbs ĖupĒ was a big positive.
Radioís future is often painted as bleak especially in attracting new and younger listeners to it. With so many technologic alternatives available and how by nature, younger folks seem to be bent on being on the cutting edge, radio was something they could easily do without. This format, I believe, will help keep a few more radios turned on. It comes down to something I have said consistently, format variety and incentive to listen are required to motivate listeners to listen. Attracting younger people to radio is a must for long-term survival.
I certainly hope the two stations donít become a carbon copy of each other over time because that will negate the positives from this move. Whether x1029 gets some on-air staff is a topic for another day. But one thing is clear; they will be made or broken by the music presented. Almost anyone can generate some excitement when a new format is introduced but keeping the momentum going in the long run is the real test.
As others mentioned, my initial reaction to 100.7 flipping to Country Legends was negative. I have moderated my view somewhat so you can put me in the cautious optimistic category. Look, Iím all for being inclusive and I appreciate Renda Broadcasting recognizing older demos who like country music and giving them a place they can call their own. The naysayers will, as usual, prefer the upper end of the demo crawl under a rock and go away. This canít and wonít happen. Until a law is in place forbidding anyone over the age of 54 from turning on the radio or being in the ratings data pool, these listeners will wind up at various stations. As we all know, the challenge is to make a respectable showing in some part of 25-54 so this move will be interesting to see if that can be accomplished. I have a feeling billing will be done as a package for both Gator and Legends. Legends could get some local S GA billing too, not impossible. At least from that standpoint, this may represent better opportunity than if they remained rhythmic AC. While the former format didnít have a lot of track record, I think it would have been more successful if CC ran with it. Given their leadership role in urban here, I believe they would have been better equipped to sell and promote the station. And so, this is where my doubts surface. There are lots of good format ideas that come out of the Renda operation but we have witnessed time after time how some of their properties receive virtually no promotion and marketing dollars. If this happens once again and the station flounders resulting in yet another flip, the listener looses once again too. This is a very disruptive and unprofitable way to do business. Enough said.
With the Point now gone, a portion of their playlist will not find itself on WJGL, WEJZ and even WSOS because they just donít fit into the current format. I need to reveal a personal metamorphosis of sorts here. When I have conceptualized and advocated doing a greatest hits format, for example, this would have been limited to 60s and 70s and little from the 80s as these songs were heard elsewhere and I didnít think they mixed well. What I originally envisioned would no longer work in attracting sufficient enough numbers in the 25-54 demo. Many of you reminded me of that time and time again but personal bias has a way of diminishing good judgment and so I stand corrected. But now, there are songs not heard anywhere else.
With Eagleís position, I believe, to grow stronger this year, itís entirely logical to conclude new competition could surface to attract, in particular, females 35-54 who really donít have an ďEagleĒ they can call their own. If we use the same logic, there are at least two stations going head to head in CHR, country, alternative, urban and even talk. Perhaps academic on my part, but over the past few months I have put together an A-Z playlist that I feel has captured elements of AC, classic hits, 80s alternative, mainstream disco and pop. The underlying soul flavor of the music I think reflects the diversity in our community and often think stations should be built on coalitions of audience. It was a very painstaking process but what resulted is something unique for Jacksonville that can differentiate a station. I believe it could do well in cume and time spent listening because the music content is not narrow and the days of playing the same artists every hour are over or should be. Yes, reality is setting in as I recognize nothing will probably come of it, but it was a labor of love and I got a kick out of doing it so no regrets. Indeed, I am a radio nerd as I love the medium and yes, I do have a life too. I just don't sleep much. LOL.
To conclude, Jax radio has moved up a few notches this week and I hope it continues and I hope we continue to remember to keep the listener in the center of the business decisions. We may indeed wind up looking back at 2009 as a year different things were tried in Jax to enhance the listener's experience. I hope more will come. The possibilities can be as far reaching as our imagination will take us!