News Archive: June 2006
June 4, 2006
In my estimation, WHEL "Georgia 105" (105.1) in Helen, GA is not a Variety Hits station. It has some elements of the format, but the station's website proclaims that it will play "thousands of hit songs from the last five decades." The format cut-off is generally 1973/1974 (with the exception of a band like The Beatles), and usually the format calls for a playlist of 1,500-2,000 songs. The illusion of the format is the whole "We Play Anything" thought, but obviously that's not the case -- country and rap are absent from most all of them, with a few rare exceptions. That's where the case that was made initially that the format was simply unformatted community radio missed the mark... and why the assessment that Georgia 105 is a Variety Hits station is also inaccurate, at least based on the information that I have. If I receive more information on it, I'll make another determination at that point, but for now it doesn't make the cut.
A source tells me that Louie FM in Louisville is doing quite well. The latest numbers from there: #3 P25-49 in Fall 2005, and #2 P25-49 in Winter 2006. I'm told that the P25-54 numbers are Top 4. The station executes the format well. Here's why, from the analysis I made in listening to it online at louieonline.com:
-The songs were all familiar to me. I know more songs than the average person, but I was born in 1977, so there are plenty of songs that could potentially qualify for the format that I haven't heard. Because it could qualify doesn't necessarily mean it should be in there. Play the hits -- and Louie FM does that.
-Co-owned WQMF is a classic rock station, so Louie FM leans away from classic rock. That's smart programming. It might seem obvious, but those of you who've never worked in radio might be surprised how some PDs miss the mark on that.
-The DJs are good; they are brief but serve a purpose beyond front or back-selling. For example, I heard one jock promote the website by mentioning how I could see tour dates there. They played a Goo Goo Dolls song earlier. And considering that I plan on seeing the Goo Goo Dolls when they play with the Counting Crows (I'm a huge Counting Crows fan) later this summer, that would potentially be something of interest to me. It's not 1998 anymore where you can just plug your website and expect your audience to be amazed that you have a website. There needs to be a compelling reason to go there.
-The presentation was tight, with all of the right pieces where they needed to be. I found it interesting that they had a female primary voiceover talent for a station named Louie FM, but the station doesn't have the JACK-FM or Bob FM approach of a mysterious person picking the music. It's Louie, as in Louisville, and it worked for me.
June 9, 2006
KWKJ, that interesting CHR station in Windsor, MO that had Mancow in the morning (not as strange as the AC station in Pikeville, KY with Bob & Tom, though), flipped to Variety Hits as 98.5 Mike FM on May 11, 2006, still with Mancow on in the morning. The station website doesn't yet reveal the change in its main section, though a small blurb at the bottom has the story on the switch.
Despite my attempts to make it as clear as possible, I've had a couple of people write me thinking that I represent the stations listed on here. The e-mails are pretty funny (at least in my opinion): here they are.
June 12, 2006
The British website Radio Today reports that British radio company Absolute Radio has applied for a forthcoming new radio license in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England in which it would launch the JACK-FM format, the first place for JACK-FM outside of North America.
For those of you unfamiliar with British radio, applicants for an available license have to not only apply, but let Ofcom (The Office of Communications) know what format is intended for the frequency. In this case, it's actually a main frequency (106.8) at 500 watts and a repeater (106.4) at 250 watts. The official .pdf document from Ofcom reveals that multiple repeaters may be used for the new station on a co-channel basis.
If you've never been to England (I spent a semester of college there in 1998), you might not know that some radio stations there do end with even decimal points, as shown with the 106.4/106.8 above. It's not a typing error -- if JACK-FM goes on in Oxford, that's where it would be.
Four other applicants paid the £5,000 to apply for the license. The proposals:
-Castle FM (Oxford Local Radio, Ltd.) A "geniunely local radio station" aimed at P35-64 with "significant speech content." I presume that means a local talk station.
-FOX Gold (First Oxfordshire Radio Company, Ltd.) A classic pop hit music station aimed at P35+ and "primarily" at 45+. I suppose the term "oldies" is taboo even in British radio.
-Inspire 106 (Spirit of Oxfordshire Radio, Ltd.) If this was the U.S. I'd guess it was a religious station. But it's England, and it's not. This station is a mix of adult hits, easy listening and album tracks from the 1960s to today.
-More FM (South Central Media, Ltd.) No, it's not the South Central that has JACK-FM on in Nashville, Knoxville, etc. This station aims at 35+, with a mix of classic hits and more recent songs that are more than 10 years old.
Absolute Radio's application describes the format as this: "Oxford and South Oxfordshire’s variety music station, particularly appealing to 35-54 adults. A generally music-intensive theme, with regular news and information which is locally relevant."
Additionally, the application reveals that the domain jackfmoxford.com is already holding the website for 106 JACK-FM, complete with the logo (which is nearly identical to the standard U.S. JACK-FM logo.) If Absolute Radio receives the license, it expects to go on the air with the station by March 2007.
In a non-UK related note, an e-mail from one of the managing partners for Georgia 105 in Helen, GA confirms that the station is not Variety Hits/Adult Hits. As the e-mail told me, the station leans rock and plays thousands of songs from the mid-60s to today, but it doesn't play any pop. I was told that it best fits in the Rock AC category.
June 14, 2006
The move of KDRB "The Bus" from 106.3 to 100.3 in Des Moines is complete, as a new format debuted yesterday on 106.3: AAA. Dubbed "106.3 The Capital", it has new call letters of KPTL (the KDRB calls moved from there to 100.3, along with The Bus.) Clear Channel doesn't have the Variety Hits format on in many markets, and in gave up on it ridiculously fast in a couple of places (Chattanooga and Fargo), but in markets like Des Moines and Louisville where it has been given time to grow, the results have been strong thus far.
June 19, 2006
In an update to the Des Moines situation, at the moment 100.3 The Bus is technically KPTL and 106.3 The Capital is KDRB, but that appears to be simply a procedural thing to secure the desired call letters for the new station until the official switch can take place. The FCC can be a bit strange at times with things like this, but my understanding is that the call letter situation will be worked out shortly.
More relevant to the situation, I read that the 100.3 signal is the strongest FM signal in the state of Iowa. I don't have independent confirmation of that, but I do know that has a very large broadcast radius. It's a good sign for the format with Clear Channel putting Variety Hits on that extremely powerful stick.
June 23, 2006
Fisher Broadcasting's SAM 107.3 (KINX) was sold as part of a larger sale of Fisher's non-Seattle radio properties to Cherry Creek Radio earlier this year. Now, Cherry Creek is preparing to spin off KINX, along with five other former Fisher stations in the Great Falls, MT market, due to FCC ownership regulations. The stations are being held in a trust until they can be sold to a permanent buyer. Interestingly, Cherry Creek opted not to switch out any of its weaken current stations with the super-powerful stations it acquired from Fisher, which includes KINX (2037' at 94kw, with city-grade coverage all the way to the edge of Helena.)
June 26, 2006
The confusion is over in Des Moines. 100.3 The Bus is now KDRB; its short-time calls KPTL switched places with those call letters, moving down to 106.3 The Capital (also in the Des Moines market.) It's been slow besides this in the genre, but that's because we're in the midst of the Spring 2006 book. Once that passes, we may start to see some changes, additions, etc.
June 27, 2006
Another JACK-FM is on the air. Brand new 96.3 KLZN in Susanville, CA launched today as 96.3 Jack FM, according to 100000watts.com.
June 29, 2006
KVUW in Wendover, NV is now Variety Hits as 107.3 SAM FM. From what I've been able to figure out, the station at the moment is on a tiny Class A stick that gives it coverage only in the Wendover area. But according to Radio-Locator.com, it has a construction permit to move to a 1,970' tall spot on a tower many miles away and an upgrade to Class C status, which would allow it to blanket the mostly rural northeast part of Nevada with its signal. 100000watts.com has information in the station section that indicates that it went on the air with the format on May 17, 2005, but that's not possible as the SAM satellite signal didn't debut until June 2005. Until I can find out more, I'm going to treat it as a new sign-on.
June 30, 2006
Edison Research, which is known for putting out some very well-written and well-researched articles, has an excellent piece about the Variety Hits genre available online. It notes three stations in the format that are presently #1 P25-54: KPKX/Phoenix, WARH/St. Louis, and KBBD/Spokane.
Congrats to Denver Jack FM (KJAC) PD Bryan Schock, who has been promoted to Director of Programming for the entire NRC/Denver cluster.
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