It was exactly 25 years ago at the Country Radio Seminar when researcher/guru John Parikhal predicted that the country format was about to fragment into two equal branches, mainstream and classic. Instead, about a year later, a guy named Garth and seven or eight other exciting new artists emerged as "the class of '89," painting over the cracks that had started to show.
If you read my last four posts which show that by playing the right songs and artists it's still possible for a country station to cobble together the optimum coalition that spans from teens to leading edge boomers you might think that country radio still hasn't fragmented.
You'd be wrong.
We just hadn't looked old enough as yet.
55+ country partisans are clearly not happy with the direction that even the biggest hits of today have taken.
That's more than a third of today's country radio audience.
So, yes, country will fragment. It will happen the day someone finds media buyers and advertisers willing to pay for 55 and older.
Meanwhile, for the average country radio station today, they remain the huge segment of our audience that no one is willing to pay for, but savvy buyers who ask our sellers to pitch on 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 know that they get for free!
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3 years ago