Friday, May 20, 2011

Radio One Keeping the Seats Warm

What would you do for a Klondike Bar?  In the brand's classic commercials, people are willing to do some pretty wild things, like yodeling in church and acting like a chimpanzee.

What would you do for an Atlanta FM signal?  The answers to that question would make the Klondike antics look like a playroom.  This is market #7, and many a broadcaster would do just about anything, to get his or her hands on the money that an Atlanta FM could produce.

That being the case, why is Radio One sitting on two valuable signals?  It's a question for which I've been unable to come up with a rational answer.

A couple of years ago, Radio One sued the pants off its former head programmer, Steve Hegwood, when his company purchased a translator at 102.9 and aired mixes that were Radio One's property.  In the settlement, Radio One ended up with 102.9.  This baby is only 160 watts, but it's a whopping 997 feet above average terrain on the New Street tower.  Its signal is pretty doggone nice, competitive just about everywhere it needs to be.

Why Radio One is using 102.9 to duplicate Hot 107-9 (WHTA-FM) is beyond me.  The translator pretty much fits within the 107.9 coverage area.  I guess having two places on the dial makes people more apt to stop at a station, but any audience gain is likely minimal.  A Radio One executive told me that the company likes to mess with V-103 (WVEE-FM), which is only two dial positions away.  Frankly, does V-103 care?  I highly doubt it.

I realize Radio One has Hip-Hop, Urban AC and Gospel stations, and does not want to compete against itself.  But is there no viable format out there?  And yes, Radio One would have to put the format on an HD channel, but that's not exactly climbing Mount Everest.

Then there's the even bigger waste of FM spectrum, the simulcast of Majic on 107.5 and 97.5.  While not one of the market's high-powered giants, 107.5 throws a very listenable signal where almost all its potential audience resides.  The same cannot be said for 97.5, but its signal booms from south of Atlanta to almost the northern arc.

Okay, I understand the 107.5 signal has some holes in the market's southern sector, and Radio One wants to insure having a strong signal for this potentially high-billing Urban AC.  However, within 6 months, 107.5 will be relocating to its new site at Jimmy Carter Boulevard off I-85.  Upon completion, the station will jump from 21,500 watts at 361 feet to 33,000 watts at 607 feet.  The new signal will remove all doubt that 107.5 can do the job on its own.

The 97.5 signal racked up good numbers by itself from its 1995 sign-on until WHTA shifted to 107.9 in 2001.  Granted, the Hot 97-5 audience was concentrated in some of the signal's strongest areas.  And a new 97.5 format would have to be something not done by anyone else, as new 102.9 programming would have to be.

Some market-exclusive formats are available.  Though perhaps not formats with big billings potential, they could be run inexpensively.  In fact, it would actually be reasonable to put a format on the southern-skewing 97.5 and use the 102.9 translator to push the station farther north.

Will Radio One prove its smarts by unveiling a new format on 97.5 when 107.5 gets its new, more powerful signal?  That's anyone's guess.

Is The Quiet Storm in Play?
A rumor has surfaced that V-103 wants a host for its late-evening Quiet Storm after about 2 years without one.  CBS Radio/Atlanta Market Manager Rick Caffey recently told the AJC's Rodney Ho that the show would continue jockless.  However, sources report V-103 has been talking with Terry Bello about the spot.

V-103 recently added local celebrity Kenny Burns for weekends.  Like Burns, Bello lives in Atlanta and is known in the music business.  He is the proprietor of the International Soul Music Summit and a 15-year veteran of radio.  He has already been heard over V-103 on weekends.

This is not the first rumor about a possible host for The Quiet Storm.  A year ago, singer Al B. Sure was ruputed to have landed the job.

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Link to Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV Blog:

1 comment:

  1. Radio One has all the urban formats covered. They have saturated the market with signals. How about using the 102.9 to "steal" from another totally different format which, in turn, will help boost their overall ranking?

    For example; how about a straight ahead, middle of the road (so to speak) AC station. It would hurt WSB-FM, the station with the largest cume in the market. If they stay away from playing lots of urban hits, they likely would not take listeners away from Majic. They could sell combo spots to advertisers for a slight hike in rates. Plus, a total straight ahead AC would cost zero dollars to operate. Make it totally automated.