Monday, May 6, 2013

Power 96-1 Not Hitting On All Cylinders

I'm happy Power 96-1 came to Atlanta.  I was one of many bemoaning the absence of a true CHR in this market for a long time.  I do not, however, think it is one of the better CHR's in a major market.

Power 96-1 does have some facets I like, including the music and the imaging.  And a lot of what I do not like is being caused by limitations put on the station by owner Clear Channel.  Some smart formatic elements are incorporated into the regular music hours.

A great station starts with a local morning show, a feature that Power 96-1 sorely lacks.  And yes, Elvis Duran is successful not only in his home market of New York, where he is local, but in many of his piped-in markets.  I thought the show would find the sledding tough against Q100's Bert Show, but it's been getting by.  It's one of the factors, however, holding back Power 96-1 from greatness though not the biggest factor.

I suppose it's hard to criticize Power 96-1 for carrying On Air with Ryan Seacrest when great stations such as Z100/New York and Kiss 108/Boston air it with no damage to their ratings.  And perhaps I could more readily accept it if morning drive were local, as it is on those two stations.  Radio's primetime is weekdays from 6AM to 7PM, and Power 96-1 has non-local programming in 8 of those 13 hours.  Maybe it's just me, but the content and formatics of Seacrest seem so out of phase with the station's other music hours.

Then there's the little matter of Mami Chula.  Since her days on 95-5 The Beat, she always sounded to me like she was auditioning for the world's worst disc jockey competition.  But I understood her act given the stations she was on, first The Beat and then Wild.  She managed to attract a following, which won her the 10AM to noon slot on Power 96-1 when Wild was blown up.  I recognize that her act is what earned her the fan base so maybe she was wise not to change it.  But she sounds so unnatural and languid to me.

Sonic, who now holds down 4-8PM, is good and has broad appeal.  It would be nice if he would do just a bit more than send shout-outs and promote appearances.  Yet Power 96-1 sounds its best when he's on.

Maddox, now on 8 to midnight, has the stereotypical CHR sound that permeates a lot of Clear Channel's CHR FM's.  It's a niche sound that relates to the young end of the demo that likes today's pop music.  I much prefer a traditional night slammer, such as Z100/New York's Mo Bounce.  It's interesting that Mo Bounce sounds so good on Z100 yet just average on his voice-tracked weekend shifts on Power 96-1.

The biggest reason for Power 96-1's mediocrity is its overall slow pace, it's lack of energy.  It just does not have the forward momentum of a Z100, for example.  It misses the excitement that has always been a hallmark of CHR architecture.  While Q100 is a more adult CHR, and Star 94 is a Hot AC, both move at a rate consistent with their format.  As a CHR, Power 96-1's momentum should be even greater.

The market's hunger for a pure CHR has made Power 96-1 successful in ratings and billings during the early going.  And ending the cannibalization from Wild 105.7/96.7 was a move that could boost Power's metrics.

Maybe I'm never satisfied.  I got a CHR and now have the nerve to want greatness.  As I said, part of the problem is Clear Channel forcing Elvis Duran and Ryan Seacrest onto Atlanta listeners.  But it seems the even bigger issue of a lethargic pace could be solved by PD Rick Vaughn and the Clear Channel braintrust.

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Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog:
Atlanta Radio Insider:


  1. I guess I'm ignorant as I never knew there were so many different flavors of pop/Top 40, and I still don't know it. Call it CHR, Adult CHR, Hot AC, or Rubber Ducky--it all sounds the same to me, and I don't like the sound of any of it. Power 96.1 may have filled some sort of niche (which, imo, was unnecessary to fill) but, in the process, Clear Channel cannibalized the only station that I and thousands of others listened to, Project 9-6-1. To Clear Channel's credit, I suppose, they did at least temporarily save Atlanta from--as I read on one radio-related message board--a format whose target demographic is "working class white males without advanced degrees." How terrible that any radio station should have such a format in a city as cosmopolitan and sophisticated as Atlanta!

  2. Well of course there is the fact that the music is bad. Not even Howard Stern could make this station sound good unless they change their format. ClearChannel screwed up again....