Tuesday, December 15, 2009

V-103 – Atlanta’s Station of the Year

If Time Magazine can have a Person of the Year, it’s only appropriate we have a Station of the Year.

We all know V-103 (WVEE-FM) has been the market’s ratings champion seemingly forever; except when WSB-AM has managed to temporarily claim the top spot. So why is V-103 the 2009 Station of the Year?

This was the year when V-103 was to be knocked off its perch, right? Prior to the PPM’s Atlanta introduction, I had a conversation with former Cox/Atlanta Market Manager Chris Wegmann, whom I respect. “I’ve done (Arbitron) diary reviews, and people write in V-103 in the morning and draw a line down through the rest of the day,” he told me. I agreed with Chris and others that the PPM’s intro would dovetail with a V-103 swoon.

The first few PPM reports appeared to confirm expectations. Atlanta had a new #1, Urban AC Kiss 104.1 (WALR-FM). The Kiss sales force hit the street with the story that the People Meter reported actual listening and not remembered listening.

Four months later, V-103 was back on top. As the year progressed, V scored some of the highest audience shares in its history, PPM be damned.

V-103 is an anomaly in today’s pared-down, consolidated environment. It has a live and local morning show, and features personalities—not just jocks—in all dayparts. In fact, V-103 places emphasis on personality and reaps listener loyalty in return. But, V-103 is more than that.

V-103 is the New York Yankees of Atlanta radio. Every fulltime personality is unique and loaded with star power. Earlier in the year, when V was looking for a midday host, my money was on Ramona Debreaux, who was filling in. Ramona personified the V-103 demo and handled the format flawlessly.

Surprise, surprise. Program Director Reggie Rouse tapped Ryan Cameron sidekick Elle Duncan for the slot. What? How could he have bypassed Ramona Debreaux for the young, inexperienced and quiet-voiced Duncan?

Think about it…the New York Yankees of Atlanta radio; every personality is unique. The move made consummate sense, and Elle has really grown on me. Happily, Ramona Debreax remains at V-103 for weekends and traffic reports.

The final ingredient in the V-103 success recipe is the station’s massive 100,000-watt signal at 1,000 feet from New Street, a perfect location for penetrating an Urban audience.

Why is V-103 able to do what it does? Why don’t other stations emulate V’s formula? I guess it’s the old chicken-and-egg thing. V-103 makes tons of money so it can afford great personalities. But the personalities, and the audience they attract, enable the station to make that money.

General Manager Rick Caffey’s stewardship of 92-9 Dave FM and WAOK-AM as well as V-103 suggests he is a personality radio believer.

So, congratulations to the people of the People’s Station, V-103, for being Atlanta’s 2009 Station of the Year.

That’s it for Atlanta Airwave Action in 2009. Thank you for reading. I hope you have a happy holiday and the best New Year ever. We will see you in January.

Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/atlantaairwaves, and we’ll follow you back. Email your comments to roddyfreeman@bellsouth.net.

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