Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Share That Really Matters

Tom Taylor's item in this morning makes it sound like some of us folks who are rooting for LA's GO Country to do very well are starting to gloat a bit, based on the latest monthly 12+ ARB trend:

"Go Country" is beating "MOViN' 93.9. One country radio friend highlights the numbers: Saul Levine's country KKGO grew from a 0.8 share 12+ in the Winter Arbitron to a 1.2 in this new Phase I. KMVN stays flat at a 0.9 share. My country expert also points out that before Emmis took country KZLA to rhythmic AC, it was doing a 1.7 share a year ago. So there's definitely open highway ahead for Go Country. Also: Note that Riverside-market country KFRG dropped 1.1-0.6 in this week's Trends, probably because in-market KKGO is picking up a head of steam."

Some history: Bonneville traded KZLA to Emmis, as I recall, because in spite of the fact that they had spent something north of a million dollars on television and got the cume up to more than 750,000, the revenue was $12 million behind the station just one place above country in the rankers. Emmis did manage to get the revenues up from the $18-million range to something like $28-million, but then they dipped to $25-million or so and a public company simply can't grow the stock price with 'negative growth.' Thus, I don't think anyone has ever questioned that country radio has an audience in Southern California.

Key: can media buyers be convinced to give country radio its fair share of the market's radio dollars?

Saul Levine probably never billed $18, let alone $28-million in any of his radio ventures, so of course he has to be very happy already with his decision to put K-Mozart on an HD side channel and country on FM, but will he put more resources into the programming and marketing to make it the very best it can be, improving the image of country among ad buyers to the point that it bills what I think most country supporters would say is its potential, something above $40-million annually?

Thus far, as exciting as the ratings uptrends are, to my ear, the consistency and relatabilty of what is coming out of KKGO right now still sounds like Levine simply sees country as another "Long Tail" format, something he can make a nice profit on without spending any 'real' money on.

If the growth stops here, we may never know what country radio could possibly have done in Los Angeles in the year 2007 and, more importantly, 2008.

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