Derek Harper is one of my favorite people in Atlanta radio. He has been Program Director of Majic 107-5/97-5 and Praise 102-5 since Operations Manager Hurricane Dave Smith blew into town in 2009. Derek joined Radio One/Atlanta back in 2005.
Derek has some personality traits that I love, especially in this day when many local PD's just routinely implement what corporate dictates. He has passion for and takes pride in what he does. Derek is a cordial person but is not shy about letting me know when he feels wronged.
A couple years ago, Derek felt I had ignored Praise 102-5, the small-signal Gospel station that soared to PPM heaven. I admitted I had sinned and repented by writing a blog post about the outlet.
Early this year, I wrote about 107.5's new, more powerful signal. In the column, I mentioned that Cox's Kiss 104 had pretty much dominated Majic in the ratings, and that I did not expect the new Majic signal to change that. I attributed the market's preference for Kiss to the station's music-intensive format, which the PPM seems to favor.
Oops. I received an email from Derek, reminding me that Majic 107-5/97-5 had been consistently beating Kiss in the money demo, persons 25-54. In fact, the ratings pushed Kiss, which had shifted to "old school" when sister station 97.1 became Jamz in 2001, to resume playing current product. Derek ended his email by saying, "Dominant stations don't change their music format."
Okay; point well taken. But I told Derek that 25-54's importance notwithstanding, I was talking about total listeners 6+, which Kiss had been winning handily.
Majic has been creeping up in the ratings and in April, tied Kiss among total persons. Well, Derek's email arrived. It read, "On behalf of my staff, I'd like to thank you for the motivation. We're determined to remove all doubt about which station is the dominant Urban AC." Attached was a PPM overview.
Having spent my career in the ad business, I grudgingly agreed with Derek that 25-54 is the holy grail so I took a look. Majic won the demo in April, but the race was close. Across all dayparts from Monday-Sunday, 6AM-Midnight, Majic edged out Kiss in average audience by 4%. In 25-54 weekly cume, however, Kiss won by 2%.
The Urban AC race is, as political pollsters like to say, within the margin of error. And frankly, so much of Majic's fate is shaped by its syndicated drivetime shows, Steve Harvey in mornings and Michael Baisden in afternoons. Harvey just had the #1 movie in America, and topics like the Trayvon Martin case are tailor-made for Baisden.
In recent months, pundits have wondered how long Steve Harvey will keep his radio show, given he recently signed as host of a new syndicated TV talk program. If Harvey did give up radio, it would throw a monster wrench into Majic (and lots of other stations).
Majic 107-5/97-5's local dayparts both feature veterans and sound good, with Carol Blackmon in middays, another important PPM daypart, and SiMan in evenings. The formatics are solid.
The new signal from (as Radio-Info poster Jabba17 calls it) the Gwinnett-is-Great site is excellent. I have driven it through Midtown and Downtown as well as south of town, and experienced no FM multipath whatsoever, just a solid, clear signal. And of course that reminds me of how redundant the 97.5 simulcast is, in a market where FM signals are worth so much. But that's another subject for another time.
I do want to give Derek Harper his props. Majic has been going nowhere but up this year. And he's done a spectacular job with Praise 102-5. But the Urban AC competition is just getting revved up. Both Majic and Kiss are going at it, and with Majic's recent gains, it's a fairly even match. Of course, we'll keep our eyes on it.
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Link to Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog: http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/