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Variety Hits Mailbag

August 25, 2005

From: Raymond Anderson
Date: Aug 25, 2005 8:34 AM
Subject: When is Albany N.Y. Getting a Jack-FM?

Dear Lou,

Just curious to know When is Albany N.Y. getting a JackFM? I am a big fan of Jack only not bob or any of those imo formats and a lot of my friends are the same way. We listen to 101.1 JackFM on aol from New York City but we want one here in Albany New York. And i wanted to know would Infinity be either opening up a station or taking one over to put Jack here? If not will it be sparknet's Jack we get here that Infnity has? Let me know. Thanks!

Yours Truly,
Raymond Anderson

Lou: The element of surprise is something that usually comes with the JACK-FM brand, not to mention the Variety Hits format. No radio owner wants to lose out on a flip because a competitor got wind of the plan and beat them to the punch. So, to that end, a flip to JACK-FM could be imminent in Albany, and only a select few people would know about it. It's the nature of the beast.

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy market is one that, unfortunately for you, does not look like a prime candidate for the JACK-FM brand. The ownership groups on the FM side there are Clear Channel, Pamal, Crawford, Capital Media, and Regent. None of them has licensed a JACK-FM station anywhere to this point. That's not to say it wouldn't happen (though with CC it seems extremely unlikely), but besides Clear Channel, none of the other companies has even put on a Variety Hits format anywhere in the country.

After initially resisting the trend, Clear Channel has begun to get on board with Variety Hits; just this month they've flipped stations in Louisville, KY and Columbia, SC to the format. But it's not JACK-FM, which is a brand name. Obviously you grasp that from the e-mail you sent, but too many people (including some in the radio business) fail to make that distinction.

At a glance, there seems to be potential for a flip with one of the two modern rock outlets in the market. Regent modern rock The Edge 103.5/103.9 (WQBJ/WQBK-FM) is losing Howard Stern at the end of the year, and it is in a head-to-head battle with Clear Channel modern rock Channel 103.1 WHRL. At least in the 12+ numbers (the only ratings I've seen), The Edge has the ratings lead, but when Stern goes to Sirius Satellite Radio things might change. It is possible that Clear Channel would flip WHRL to Variety Hits, but if it happened the odds are next to zero that the company would license the JACK-FM branding for the station.

Keep in mind that there are one-offs with JACK-FM licensing situations (such as South Central in Nashville), so don't count it out entirely as a possibility. I just think the odds are against it at this point. But the market is prime for a Variety Hits station, with no 80s, Classic Hits, or AAA (Adult Album Alternative) stations in the area, and it seems to me to be a matter of which company strikes first to put one on there.

Copyright 2005-2009 Lou Pickney. All Rights Reserved.