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Variety Hits Mailbag

August 7, 2005

From: Jason Bacon
To: LouPickney@gmail.com
Date: Aug 7, 2005 2:59 AM
Subject: Great Site, Lou!

Lou,

In just a very short time, I've become obsessed with this format! It's endlessly addictive! I'm twenty-three and though I know this format is as researched as the next, it's great to hear all of these songs back to back...Ah to go from the Guns 'N Roses cover of Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" to Elvis's "Burning Love". But I digress.

I'm in Savannah, GA where we've recently gotten our own Variety Hits station, as you're aware of. The whole moniker of "Freedom 104.7" and the flag logo are truly bizarre. I wonder if they'll be getting a cease and desist letter soon as they are using the "Playing What We Want" positioner that JACK FM uses?

Is this format usually in your face, presentation-wise? All we have is a male voice repeating the station name and then variations of "We have to pay some bills." or "Even we have to take a bathroom break". I was curious if the imaging might improve. Commercials, outside of a few here and there and weather from The Weather Channel, are usually PSAs featuring Della Reese & Denzel Washington.

In any case, thanks for the site and your tireless efforts in promoting this rapidly expanding format.

Very sincerely,

Jason Bacon


Lou: I can't speak for what the JACK-FM team is going to do, but I know that it has been quite aggressive in protecting its intellectual property, and rightfully so. I'm surprised that Tama Broadcasting was so brazen with its "We Play What We Want" positioning statement. Expect that to change soon.

I suppose the Freedom name fits in that it's a station that has the freedom to play a wide variety of music, but the use of the American flag with it is an unusual twist (and yes, I know that America is the home of the free, I get the correlation). I don't want to be overly critical, but it is a bit bizarre.

When a station flips formats, it can take time to line up new advertisers, which is why you often times will have a station go "commercial free" when it first flips formats. The fact that WSGA is a rimshot from the west doesn't help things as far as drawing attention in the Savannah market. Tama should be able to start selling more ad time as the station becomes more established.

As for the format being more in your face, it depends on what incarnation of it you're talking about. JACK-FM usually takes a smart-aleck approach, but I wouldn't define it as "in your face". It's more clever quips and liners that make you laugh between songs. Bob FM uses some as well, though not quite as effectively as JACK-FM (just my opinion). There are other approaches to the format, such as Bonneville's, where that isn't used at all; the same holds true for Westwood One's SAM Radio satellite-fed format. It all depends on what feel the General Manager, Operations Manager, Program Director and Imaging Director want to have for the station.

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