Monday, April 4, 2011

A Myth Examined

Atlanta was an "underradioed" market for obvious reasons.  When frequencies were allocated way back when, this was a medium market.  Atlanta exploded in the past 35 years.  And, like its physical infrastructure, its radio infrastructure was not equipped to handle the growth.  Meanwhile, the Atlanta radio spectrum had been closed in by Birmingham, Chattanooga and other nearby markets.

In 1994, the Sunday Journal-Constitution contained an article about the low number of radio stations for a metro of Atlanta's size.  The story stated this would not change.  It could not have been more wrong.  Over the next several years, 9 FM signals and an AM were added to the dial.  This was in addition to the stations that had already "moved-in," 97.1, 106.7, 104.1 and 104.7.  The path for the post-1994 additions had been cleared by the FCC around 1989, when the move-in rules were relaxed.

Just weeks ago, I heard a speaker at a seminar mention that Atlanta has a low number of radio stations per capita compared to other markets.  And 2 years ago at an ABAC (Atlanta Broadcasters Advertising Club) luncheon, during a presentation about PPM, an Arbitron representative talked about Atlanta having a lower station density than its population merits.  So are we still underradioed?

I counted the number of stations that target Atlanta and show up in the Arbitron ratings.  The number that I came up with was 29.  I then did the same exercise with the other 9 markets that make up the top 10.  The results were: 1) New York - 33; 2) Los Angeles - 38; 3) Chicago - 34; 4) San Francisco - 23; 5) Dallas/Fort Worth - 31; 6) Houston - 36, 8) Philadelphia - 27; 9) Washington - 27; 10) Boston - 25.  That averages out to 30 stations.

My conclusion is Atlanta is no longer an underradioed market.  I wish the Underradioed Committee would call a press conference and make it official.  While the market has virtually as many stations as others its size, it does have a distinct division between the Haves and the Have-Nots.  In fact, Atlanta probably has more Have-Nots than any other market.

Have-Nots is an exaggeration.  By Have-Nots, I mean Atlanta-oriented stations that, well, are not really in Atlanta.  The Have-Nots are not bad and in fact do pretty well in cars.  But, they have occasional holes and some problems inside buildings.  Those stations break out into two types.

First are the move-ins, also called rim shots, which are still licensed to locales such as Gainesville and Athens.  They must still city grade their respective cities of license, but they have moved close enough to Atlanta to target the market and grab a share of the ad dollars.  Examples are 97-1 The River and 104.7 The Fish.

Second are the lower-powered outlets with antennas just outside Atlanta.  Examples are Majic 97-5 and Praise 102.5.  (Those two stations are different classes, a C and an A, respectively, but that's getting technical.)

The real Atlanta FM's--92.9, 94.1, 94.9, 96.1, 98.5, 99.7, 101.5 and 103.3--certainly hold a signal advantage; they are solid across the market.  And two johnny-come-lately signals, 100.5 and 107.5, were fortunate enough to build their antennas close in, giving them good penetration where most of the population lives.

The ratings reveal the Haves have an easier time attracting an audience.  You could arguably say that a station has to be one of the "real" ones to make it into the top 10, unless the station targets African-Americans.  The reason that Praise 102.5 (WPZE-FM) can continually be a top-5 station is its audience resides close in.  So (the equivalent of) 6,000 watts from its Ben Hill transmitter site do just fine.  That signal would never work for a general market station.

No matter that not everyone has a full signal.  Atlanta is no longer an underradioed market, and that's worth celebrating.

Alpha Needs a Platform
The kickoff of B98.5's Vikki & Kelly made one thing obvious.  The return of Kelly & Alpha is not in the cards any time soon.

Kelly & Alpha was B98.5 FM's morning show for 9 successful years until being displaced by Steve & Vikki.  K&A were able to do a personality morning show within the station's tight format restrictions, a feat not easily accomplished.  And, the two co-hosts had chemistry and complemented each other.

I'm happy Kelly Stevens landed back at B98.5 in such a successful way.  But Kelly's "other half," Alpha Trivette, still needs a place to ply his craft.  Alpha is a talented entertainer who, in addition to being a radio performer for 25 years, has been an actor, writer and speaker.  He has also done radio in Denver, Tampa and Kansas City.

If you or someone you know in any field is looking for a talented communicator, contact Alpha Trivetta at or 678-361-5844.

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