Sunday, June 21, 2009

Perfecting Formatics

Star 94 and The Bull, two stations oft covered here as up-and-comers in recent weeks, pushed their way skyward in the May PPM’s. 99X at 97.9, Cumulus Media Partners’ baby translator, also made impressive gains.

Both Star 94’s and The Bull’s Persons 6+ shares hit new whole numbers, with Star at 4.0 and The Bull at 3.0. Star’s performance was its best since the introduction of PPM, and The Bull’s share the highest since its first Arbitron book in 2007. The Bull’s Winter, 2007 share indicated trial; this time, it denotes a real audience.

In the coveted 25-54 demo, Star 94 showed up at a 3-way tie for #7; most direct competitor Q100 was tied for #5. The Bull was in a 9-way tie (yep, that’s PPM for you) for #10. Kicks, The Bull’s Country foe, was caught in that same tie as far as average (rounded) rating (but was 1,100 persons ahead of The Bull).

Mornings on Star with Cindy & Ray continued to climb, resting in a tie for #8; Q100’s Bert Show was #4. Star’s afternoon drive, featuring the syndicated Ryan Seacrest, performed fairly well in a tie for #5 compared to #4 for Q100. (Seacrest is the one show on Star whose potential I have questioned.) Afternoon drive with Lance Houston continued to be The Bull’s strongest daypart, tying Kicks for #7 in average rating but actually edging out Bill Celler by 600 people.

Star 94 PD JR Ammons must have the station sounding like he wants because Star has been spending the past few weeks tweaking its formatics. Star modified its positioning from “Atlanta’s #1 Hit Music Station” to “Atlanta’s Hit Music Station.”

I think the subtle change was a smart one. First, Atlanta’s #1 Hit Music Station acknowledges the competition; the new version minus the number does not. CHR outlets in markets with only one station in the format have used “The #1 Hit Music Station” for years, but that sweeper connotes the station is the place for the top hits; “Atlanta’s #1 Hit Music Station” suggests it’s better than the other CHR station.

Second, all of its sweepers now reference hits in some shape or form. (One of them, “The Biggest Hits from the Biggest Stars,” is almost the same as The Bull’s original positioning, “The Biggest Stars, The Biggest Hits.”). The strategy seems to be to make Star 94 top-of-mind when a listener thinks of hit music.

Star 94 made an excellent choice with Heather Branch for middays. She has a rich sound and fits the format beautifully. As she has felt more comfortable in recent weeks, she has been interjecting more tidbits about entertainment stars within Star’s tight talk restrictions.

I really enjoy listening to a jock who loves what he’s doing. Star 94’s Darik at Night is such a personality, and that he’s having a great time comes right through the speakers. Since he replaced Nudge in early 2007, Darik has only been getting better and interacts excellently with listeners.

I still miss the jingles on Star and feel they could brighten the station considerably. I had heard the ReelWorld package was dropped because Lincoln Financial was frowning on barter. Yet Seacrest is partly barter so I don’t know the validity of that. And, jingles can be had at a nominal cost. But I hand it to JR for pulling Star 94 back in the right direction and making it sound good again.

AAA’s Future
When I started doing Atlanta Airwave Action several months ago, I decided to make two resolutions in order to keep from getting burnt out as I did writing an Atlanta radio column several years ago. The first was to stick pretty much to commentary and not try to be the first with breaking news. The second was to post the column when something noteworthy happened in Atlanta radio and not adhere to a regular schedule.

I have lived up to the first resolution. However, I have been posting a column almost every Monday evening. After all, I felt that if readers did not find a new post on a regular schedule, they might think I had stopped writing it and not return.

I had been trying to post every Monday evening even if nothing much happened during the preceding week, if the weekend was a holiday or if I was slammed with my paying work. But frankly, being “forced” to post on a regular basis kind of turned doing the column into a chore; and it’s been difficult to write some of them over the past several weeks.

So…I’m not going to adhere to a regular schedule. I will still update the blog fairly often so please check occasionally. For those of you who are my Facebook friends, I will notify you of each new column on my Facebook page. And, I will mention the blog occasionally on

I’ve received a lot of response from people in and outside the industry, and I appreciate all of it! I hope you will continue to check back.

Roddy Freeman

Thanks for reading. Feel free to email me at

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