To Scott Bailey and Josh Wilkey-
I give both of you guys a helluva lot of credit for doing such a format on the AM band this day and age! Personally, I would've tried a format which FM broadcasters wouldn't touch. I guess if you're in an area where the threat of FM is minimal, maybe you can afford to do this. I wouldn't try this in a more urban area. I would be broadcasting (appropriate) songs that the typical FM Hot-AC wouldn't touch and do live-remote broadcasts at various community events, although I'm probably preaching to the choir on these points.
Scott- I agree with you on two points: First, I miss the days of the old top-40s from the past like WLS and the like. Second, with regard to your comment on the recent WSM thread, I agree that the government is a major liability; not only regarding broadcasting but so many other aspects of life as well! FTR, It seems like WSM and CHWO are the only clear-channel stations offering unique programming. The one thing that puzzles me is I understand that you have an app to power down to 250 watts daytime. If this is the case, how come?
Josh- maybe other stations can learn from you and utilize your processing and transmission techniques. Are you guys stereo?
Something to remember is that when you get to some of the bigger metropolitan areas (like Washington DC-where I'm from) is that the only music you seem to hear on AM is either ethnic (usually Spanish) or religious. Everything else is usually news, talk and/or sports. Even standards is a difficult find. Very rarely will you find country (even traditional) or oldies.
An idea that I had was to have a personality-intensive format that played some music-similar to the way that WLUP-AM was about 1987-88. I don't think that station was given a chance.
FTR, I did have a thought for an oldies format that might work on AM: combine 'graffiti-gold' (50s and early 60s) along with California like 'surf' music (Beach Boys, Jan and Dean), Carolina 'beach' music and R&B classics. For a standards format, combine light hits of today and play more of the 'modern' standards by artists such as Michael Buble and Harry Connick; perhaps play Rod Stewart and Queen Latifah's recent standards remakes (so long as it not done to excess); thereby creating an MOR format for today.
First of all, thank you for your kind comments. It gives me a strange feeling taking on a format that is in reality a “Female FM format. My thoughts were this; we are 35 minutes away from Downtown Nashville, with a signal that can be received in Nashville, but not listenable & not strong enough of a signal to be referred to as a Nashville station. It is way too weak and not strong until you cross over into Sumner County.
We are really a local “Gallatin” only station, when it boils down to ratings and such. Lots of young people 25-54 are moving to Gallatin and work in Nashville. In most metro markets, the AM stations are religion, news talk, or ethnic (black or hispanic). Of course, we are lucky to have one 50 KW music station, WSM-AM, which of course, is country.
WMRO was oldies (late 50’s, 60’s & early 70’s) from February 1994 to August 2006. The oldies format was wearing down, as I saw the Nashville FM’s that were formatted oldies, the same as we were, falling in the ratings, I knew the format was starting to die as a regular “full time” format. The format was beginning to have just a cult following of a demo of 55 plus in Nashville.
WMRO has almost NO listeners at all between 2001 & 2006, and our local competitor, WHIN-AM 1010 was getting all the glory of being the local Gallatin Station, playing classic country music, doing all the ballgames in Sumner County, and local interviews with local official that had much respect with the station because of it’s historical past, and a fantastic 5000 watt signal that reached Downtown Nashville. WMRO was an allocation that I moved in 1993 from Nashville to Gallatin, and it struggled being an “Oldies” station.
In 1996, WHIN-AM owners Jack Williams (whom is related to me as a cousin in my family) and Skip Sparkman (Jack’s partner), made me an offer to buy WMRO. I think Mr. Sparkman thought I would get tired competing against him, want to quit, and sell out. Being I’m much younger then Jack & Skip, and full of spunk, I flat REFUSED to give in.
In 1994, Skip Sparkman told someone at Volunteer State College where he teaches that I would not last a year. I’m coming up on 14 years being the owner of WMRO, and the same statement HOLDS as it did in 1996. WMRO is NOT FOR SALE, PERIOD! I and my father, William “Bill” Bailey” built the station from ground up and I have, and I will survive. I think Mr. Sparkman now realizes this today.
During 2001 through 2006, with all the bigger businesses moving in that do not buy local AM stations, and what few mom and pop businesses left in Gallatin buying ads mostly on WHIN, this left a mentally in the minds of people in Gallatin & Sumner County that WHIN was “THE STATION OF GALLATIN” since it had been on, signing on in 1948, and WHIN had the support of the community and city officials. Believe or not, I do agree with that statement.
On Sunday’s, the areas churches didn’t see it that way. Throughout the years I’ve operated WMRO, and to this day, we drop our secular format on Sunday’s for sponsored gospel music, preachers and ministers to be on WMRO. There was only so much room on WHIN to air these programs, because WHIN broadcast NASCAR races on the weekends, they all came to WMRO, and now they tell me they will never go to another station.
In 2006, as Gallatin was beginning to grow and I saw the changes take place, as new subdivisions, condos, and new superstores being built on unused land. We at WMRO had been the same format for over 10 years, and I as general manager felt it was time for a change. I started looking for other formats. I hate talk radio, country was out, and we didn’t want religion on during the week because it has been proven it’s not a money maker as a full time format in the suburbs. Gallatin had one hispanic station licensed to it, WYXE-AM 1130 with 2500 watts. Rock was the only thing left.
As I started to look at AC formats, I loved the upbeat sound of the Hot AC format. Standard AC formats tend to drag somewhat and play recurrent titles way to much. In August of 2006, we ended our Oldies format at 5 PM in the afternoon and took off with the Hot AC format, playing the Goo Goo Dolls, “Let love in”. Our Hot AC format has an Alternative Rock edge to it that gears to the older, 35-54 audience that is not a kid anymore. They have a good job, upscale, stable in their lives and they might own their own business, and have kids.
We feature ABC’s Jonathan & Mary Morning Show, which is different than Bob and Sherry. Music is played along with audience involvement during the show. One thing we did do that WHIN does heavily is that we removed doing any local news, UNLESS it is an emergency. This way, if you want to be entertained in the morning with the adult hits and talk, Magic 1560, WMRO, provides that for Gallatin. If you want local news, find out what’s up at the county clerk’s office is up to these days, go to WHIN.
WMRO, Magic 1560’s “Hot AC Format” is working, and giving the AM dial a fresh sound in this area. It was a scary risk, but the results came rather quickly, much quicker than I thought, and we have an audience that is totally different, and I’m not concerned what WHIN is doing. As a matter of fact, I really have never been at all, like some people of the Gallatin Community seems to. Certain Gallatin citizens walk up to me, get in my face and tell me what WHIN is doing. I tell them I could careless and don’t want to discuss it. I simply tell them I do not listen to their station at all, and I care more about what I’m doing, than worrying and wasting my time concerned about what they are doing. I guess these people have nothing else better to do than spread small town gossip.
The guys that had worked in broadcasting over the years that live here in Gallatin, my friends, Pat Julian, Bill Buntin, Buddy Sadler, etc. said that Hot AC on AM would not work. Well, it’s been almost two years for us and it’s doing quite well and this station has found its nitch. My father passed away in February of 2007. He would have been happy to see how well Magic 1560 is doing now. It’s doing much better as a Hot AC station playing “Today’s Best Hits”, than the same 400 (play it safe) Oldies titles, over and over.
Oh, the reason for the power decrease, I have had a big offer on my land the station sits on. Where I want to move to is in the middle of where our audience is. WMRO does not make it to Nashville very well with 1000 watts, and I can’t move it any closer south or west without a decrease in power, so being at 250 watts doesn’t bother me. There is a station that is a co-channel station in KY that I have spoke with that wants to go from 10,000 watts directional to a 10,000 non-directional, daytime pattern. This would mean I would have to reduce power for that to work on paper with the FCC. The station is only 120 miles from us.
What folks don’t realize on a technical side of things is that there is not that much difference in 250 watts and 1000 watts, field strength wise. 1000 watts field strength is 282 mv/m at 1 KM. 250 watts is 141 mv/m at 1 KM, so in reality 250 watts (field strength wise on AM is equal to ˝ of 1000 watts.) If you have a good antenna and ground system, not much difference is noticed.