Monday, May 4, 2009

Cindy & Ray Clicking in Mornings

It’s been over a month since Cindy & Ray moved to mornings on Star 94, and they are sounding great. I guess it was my aversion to a talk-intensive afternoon drive show on a CHR station that caused my being unable to listen for any great length previously. But the smooth Ray Mariner pared with the “valley girl” sound of Cindy Simmons has chemistry and smarts.

Speaking of smarts, Star 94 is being very smart in its constant and consistent promotion of the show, and in apparently getting a sponsor to pick up the $1,000 that it gives away each morning. Star is making its $1,000 giveaway sound like a much bigger deal than the same giveaway on the competition.

Star 94 is clicking on a lot of cylinders right now, and its formatics, imaging and music clock, with its short rotation of powers, suggests a keen knowledge and understanding of CHR (and PPM) by its programming brain trust.

Star has prudently returned to what made it successful, Adult CHR programming and a music-intensive sound outside of morning drive. Cindy & Ray fit the format to a tee.

The big question for Star 94 is whether the popularity of Ryan Seacrest and the fact that he started in radio at Star will compensate for how boring that show is. Will airing Seacrest in afternoon drive blunt Star 94’s mission to reclaim its former #1 CHR ranking? If Seacrest turns out to be wrong for afternoons, would Star have the financial wherewithal to bring in someone compelling?

With Star 94 now headed in the right direction for the most part, I’ll take the chance of sounding like a broken record, or maybe a stuck CD. How did Star get so “messed up?” And I’m talking not even as much about the morning show as about the station’s decision to throw its heritage away and suddenly go very young early last year.

You can blame former PD Dan Bowen. But you have to consider a number of higher-ups apparently signed off on the decisions, including former GM Mark Kanov, National PD John Dimick and LFM President Don Benson. Just think how different things might be if Cindy & Ray had moved to mornings and Star retained its Adult CHR format in January, 2007. The decisions made back then are almost unfathomable to me.

I personally miss jingles on Star and feel they added considerably to the station’s overall brightness. And I would like to hear some rhythmic product on Darik’s evening show, like Q100 plays during Adam Bomb’s shift. Q100’s music is so over safe during the day that Star, with its adult but more current rotation, would seemingly have a clear edge in music if it added some rhythmic at night.

Answers come fast these days, once a month to be exact. The April PPM numbers will be the first glance at Cindy & Ray’s morning performance.

Should The Bull Growl Louder?
An Atlanta Airwave Action a couple of months ago detailed The Bull’s complete overhaul and its tremendous improvement, which of course includes a new morning show.

In Adults 25-54, the March PPM showed The Bull tied at #11 overall. The station was tied for #13 in morning drive, at #12 in midday, #9 (and actually beating Kicks) in afternoon drive and #14 at night.

That’s not terrible since an entire 12+ point has gone missing from the market’s country share. But, I have not seen any advertising—TV or Outdoor—informing potential Bull listeners of the changes. People have sampled The Bull repeatedly and been disappointed. They may not go back without being convinced it’s worth another try.

Hopefully CC will find a way to create an enticing campaign, and the well-documented financial challenges at the company will not stand in the way. After all, what a shame it would be to have a Bull roast without the station putting forth its best effort to get noticed.

Roddy Freeman

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