Kevin Carter's R&R Street Talk nails it this morning:
Could this be the end of The End?
While Citadel Alternative KKND (106.7 The End)/New Orleans has been off the air since Katrina hit last August, ST Daily stumbled upon some alleged sales department info floating around the market that suggests that when the station turns the power back on, it may reappear as “Rockin’ Country 106.7,”dishing out a steaming hot plate of, well, rock and country hits. PD Sig and MD Vydraare reportedly still in mornings as The Morning Train Reck and Mike Shannon in afternoons. But are those who forget history doomed to repeat it? The same thing was done on the same frequency in the mid-’90s ... with limited success: WGTR (106.7 The Gator) blasted the bayou with rockin’ country — which lasted a whole year before flipping to Smooth Jazz. Cue our pukey announcer: “Staaaay tuuuuuuned!”
In spite of Big Earl, Willie, Hank, and lots of new Cats, Dogs, Wolves et al, country remains the one format where fragmentation has not been a successful attack strategy. Taking on a strong incumbant requires lots of marketing dollars (and some smarts in deploying them!), a great on air crew (especially a morning show which "gets" evolving contemporary country values) and a great strategy based on perceived weaknesses of the leader.
Carving off a piece of the country target pie may get you some trade publication headlines for a few months, but unless you know how to turn small shares, or upper demos into dollars, I'd advise caution, or at least a realization that two or three year turnarounds don't often happen in the country format.
It has always been thus: a form of music gets hot, just like country is now, and then too many hopeful lemmings change to it, causing cume to increase but average TSL to dip. The longtime leaders have been through this cycle more than once.
It takes lots of staying power and stamina to win the country race. That's a theorem which remains as true today as it was during the last format boom in the early 1990's.
Some friendly advice: if you're looking at taking that road, get a roadmap.
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