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Sunday, 20 August, 2006
  • you read now: drinking the sand
  • From the late 60’s until very recently, if you owned a radio station and didn’t know what to do with it, you went country. “The conventions of country-music radio are so ingrained in the minds of radio people, it was easy and always pulled a small but loyal share. With the creation of the “America’s Music” format in 1977, slowly but surely the largest Country signals have gravitated toward subtle variations of that format. “America’s Music” is country-based with elements and an overall style based upon Top-40 of the 60’s and 70’s. The preeminence of this format led directly to the development of “Country Gold” or “Classic Country” which draws heavily but not exclusively from the Nashville Sound era (1965-1980) and is formatted not unlike Oldies, now officially dead. The only new development within Country radio in the last 15 years is the Outlaw format, which plays more traditional country music, as opposed to the Pop/AC-type country (think Shania Twain), with seasoning of artists not typically considered Country who appeal to that demographic, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elvis, etc. Outlaw stations are rare, but both satellite services feature popular channels with this format.

    Today, if you have an AM you don’t know what to do with you either lease time to Christian organizations, which draws next to nothing but is almost pure profit or go to automated syndicated talk. If you have an FM you don’t know what to do with go Urban/CHR and draw those naive but marginally desirable people under 35 who still buy CDs. Hence the large number of such stations in this decaying marketplace. People interested in evolving the form are no longer in the business in significant numbers. Remember, people are not forfeiting one radio station or format for another, they are more typically abandoning the medium altogether.

    Another hallmark of the decay occurred Thursday when KZLA 93.9, once “Southland Country”, operating through Emmis from Los Angeles, forfeited its long-standing position as the preeminent Country station on the West Coast to become “Jammin’ 93.9” with CCC’s Rick Dees in the morning.

    I’m telling you now, the no-numbers station in LA which flips to Outlaw Country will do very well in LA and Orange Counties.

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