Back before the turn of the century, radio station owners often did market research to find viable programming “holes” in a market. Often it didn’t even take research, just an experienced radio nerd with a sense of what was to be popular. Once identified, the task was simply to put it altogether and hit the air.
Beautiful Music to Lite AC
I was in Atlantic City doing one of Bonneville’s beautiful music formats and Jerry Lee was in Philadelphia doing Bonneville’s Matched-Flow beautiful music format on WEAZ (EZ 101-FM).
Jerry Lee has always been a leader in the radio industry and with the research of Bill Moyes, they moved WEAZ from beautiful music to Lite AC and re-branded the station B101 (with new WBEB call letters too). It was a very gutsy move!
Jerry’s success with the new format saw me take WFPG-FM from beautiful music to Lite AC and re-brand as Lite 96.9 a few years later.
Timing is Everything
The year was 1989. The country would soon be headed into a recession. The format switch at WFPG-FM saw us go from #2 in the 12+ Arbitron Ratings to #1. Even better, we took the #1 positions in all the key buying demos.
As the economic conditions tightened in the early 90s, the number of stations deep being bought in Atlantic City regionally/nationally would go from five to three to one. And WFPG-FM was the one.
We delivered our first million-dollar bottom-line year in 1991. We repeated that performance in 1993. Meanwhile, the other radio stations in the market were just about making ends meet.
Signal, Signal, Signal
In real estate, the key to having a winning property is all location, location, location.
In radio, the key to having a winning property is signal, signal, signal.
WFPG-FM had one of the market’s only 50,000-watt non-directional signals at that time. Two other 3,000-watt radio stations were already programming a light adult contemporary format, but when we put that format on our huge signal, they both bailed, one changing to classical music and the other to classic rock. It left WFPG-FM as the market’s only Lite AC radio station and with the most popular music format at that moment in time.
What I’m seeing is too many “me too” stations on the air today.
Me too is not a viable strategy.
The future for any venture in a 21st Century world is to zag when others are all zigging.
Look at any successful enterprise and you will see two things:
1) not everyone loves what they do and
2) they’re famous for what they do. (Think Howard Stern)
Howard would make Sirius Satellite Radio something special and unique. It’s why they forked over hundreds of millions of dollars to have Howard join their team.
What happened to the OTA radio station’s when Howard left for Satellite Radio?
They had an Excedrin headache for quite a few years.