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Analyzing the Cumulus format moves...

Discussion pertaining to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Battle Creek, Big Rapids, and Michiana
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MWmetalhead
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Analyzing the Cumulus format moves...

Post by MWmetalhead » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:21 pm

Overall, I am not fond of the changes. I'm going to assign a grade of "D."

Here's why:
The Nielsen Audio Metropolitan Statistical Area (the geographic area that accounts for the most commonly used version of Nielsen ratings) consists of two counties & two counties only - Kent and Ottawa.

When Nash/Thunder was moved from 94.5 to 107.3 - I thought for sure this was done to either (a) open up 94.5 for an LAV simulcast, (b) open up a frequency to give Hot-FM a more competitive signal in the core of the G.R. metro, or (c) to create an opportunity to bring V100's Adult Urban programming to Grand Rapids while ensuring it remained available on a good signal for Muskegon.

Why did I feel that way? Simple. Moving Nash/Thunder off 94.5 and onto 107.3 hurts it in the following three ways:
- Existing preset buttons for 94.5 will no longer bring Country to listeners who expect Country
- B93 listeners who hit "seek" during a commercial break will no longer land on Nash/Thunder immediately
- Ottawa County is very white, somewhat blue collar, and very Republican. That demographic group LOVES country music! 107.3's signal is much weaker in Ottawa County than 94.5 (whose tower is just NE of Zeeland).

Introducing those risks to Nash/Thunder might've made sense if it was for the laudable causes of protecting LAV's revenue purse, putting Hot-FM in a more level playing field vis-a-vis WLHT or expanding Urban programming.

But nope. All of the above was done simply so 94.5 MHz could be opened up for a Triple A format, a format that has *never* been done commercially in the G.R. area and is basically unproven locally.

Triple A by its intrinsic nature is a niche format. It performs well in progressive college towns (Ann Arbor) and a few wealthy, tech heavy, very white collar metro areas (Denver). Even under those conditions, there is no guarantee of success. The Triple A station in Seattle died a long time ago, the one in San Francisco recently morphed into alternative, and the one in Boston earns crappy ratings.

So, here's where i'm going with this - why the f*ck couldn't Thunder stay put on 94.5? Why not put "Q" on 107.3 or 105.3 instead?

That brings me to my next point - what's the point of dropping the "Nash" brand for Thunder if (a) the national Nash morning show is still going to be used and (b) the national Nash night show (called "Nash Nights Live") is still going to be used? I don't get it. The new V/O work sounds tacky and the music has taken a step backward.

105.3 Hot FM remains at a competitive disadvantage in multiple respects. It has a rotten signal in & around downtown Grand Rapids, can be tough to pick up indoors pretty much anywhere from Grand Rapids southward, and has a milquetoast out-of-market night show that might work for 1996 CHR/Pop radio but not 2019. NONE of these deficiencies have been addressed.

WLAV continues to be a difficult signal to receive reliably in Ottawa County. Good luck getting that directional antenna needed for the GVSU TX site to work delivered. WLAV's ratings were down about 20% from normal levels this past fall, even as in-market competitor WBFX faced all time record low ratings.

The ONLY thing that I like about the changes? Relegating low rated WBBL to the AM band & a limited coverage FM translator so that a powerful signal could be opened for a music format that is likely to garner better ratings - albeit probably not a ton better. That is the ONLY reason I'm not doling out a grade of "F."


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RandJob
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Re: Analyzing the Cumulus format moves...

Post by RandJob » Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:17 pm

I agree with most of your points. I like the idea of a AAA in the market but the musical chairs to get it done seems ridiculous.

I think many thought the only reason to uproot country off 94.5 was to slide WHTS into that frequency either now or following an LAV simulcast. Their transmitter issues, even before last year's tower fiasco, have been a thorn for years.

Putting WBBL out of its misery was long overdue. As an EZS fan, I'm glad he's got his own podcast now because that was a turd of a station that I can't believe they let go on as long as it did.

I do hope that the Thunder branding will lead to something more interesting on that station. It had a fun couple of years as a good alternative to B93 when it embraced some of the music they wouldn't play. Simply parroting the same playlist is not going to work.


In life when I have decisions to make I always think to myself, What Would Scott Hall Do?

Then I buy a bunch of cheap booze and drink myself to sleep.

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MWmetalhead
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Re: Analyzing the Cumulus format moves...

Post by MWmetalhead » Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:26 pm

Yeah, I'm not opposed to AAA on a commercial signal in G.R. Cumulus does a great job with their station in Ann Arbor; hopefully the same amount of effort & talent will be put into this one.

I just think the situation could've been handled a lot better by Cumulus. I guess by putting it on 94.5, a lot of people will discover the station inadvertently (since far fewer people likely have presets for 107.3 in their cars). Perhaps that's the main reason for sticking this format on 94.5. But like I said earlier, that could come at a cost to Thunder.

If the format was going to show up anywhere, over the years I thought for sure it would be via 100.5 or 101.3.

Years ago, I thought perhaps 101.3 would progress in such a direction when they adopted the "Rock's Finest" tagline. Instead, they stopped far short, basically giving us 3 parts Classic Rock and 1 part Rock AC.

Triple A on 100.5 would've blended nicely WGRD, WFGR and WLHT.


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48125er
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Re: Analyzing the Cumulus format moves...

Post by 48125er » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:52 pm

I would've put the AAA on 105.3, except calling it "Grand Rapids 105.3" like "Ann Arbors 107.1" instead of putting a random Q label on it which is a distant homage to a station that left 94.5 15 years ago (WKLQ) and kept country on 94.5 and fix LAV's signal.

I do agree that 100.5 would've made a better transition to AAA than 94.5, at least Iheart didnt do and create another trainwreck like what 106.7 is and put it on 101.3.

In regards to Iheart, can somewhat Imagine WOOD being put on 101.3, as that would have a better signal to GR than 106.9 and putting WMUS back on 106.9



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Re: Analyzing the Cumulus format moves...

Post by Deleted User 12201 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:02 am

I am certain this is all because Cumulus was trying to head off a perceived Alt (or even AAA) move by iHR. It would have been the next logical thing to do on 101.3 with the terrible ratings it is getting. I think the market can support a AAA station, but it is going to take some good promotion and determining best how to get the 25-44 demo off their phones and onto a radio. GR is being known as an artistic and more youth oriented place these days, so that probably helped Cumulus’ decision, too. Time will tell, it is definitely an interesting choice...



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MWmetalhead
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Re: Analyzing the Cumulus format moves...

Post by MWmetalhead » Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:12 am

GR is being known as an artistic and more youth oriented place these days, so that probably helped Cumulus’ decision, too. Time will tell, it is definitely an interesting choice...
You are correct that this was a key consideration.
In regards to Iheart, can somewhat Imagine WOOD being put on 101.3, as that would have a better signal to GR than 106.9 and putting WMUS back on 106.9
I can think of three reasons why 106.9 FM was chosen for the Newsradio WOOD simulcast as opposed to 101.3:
- Signal considerations: 1300's signal is the weakest along the lakeshore. 106.9 is much stronger than 101.3 along the lakeshore.
- Contractual considerations: Putting Newsradio WOOD on 101.3 might've caused the station to ran afoul of market exclusivity provisions for certain programming, especially sports play-by-play. The station's 54 dBu contour seeps into much of the Lansing market, for example.
- WBFX still generated OK ratings when Newsradio WOOD first moved to FM: remember, 101.3's main goal is to suppress WLAV's ratings to give iHeart's radio stations (usually 93.7) a better chance of finishing 1st place in Adults 25-54. 106.9 FM as a music station had been earning ratings in the G.R. market of only around a 1 share.

If AM radio availability wanes considerably in future years, for example as a result of auto manufacturers choosing to strip AM radio out of their infotainment consoles, then at that point I think you'll see iHeart move to relocate Newsradio WOOD to a city grade signal on the FM dial.

Until that occurs, there really is no incentive for iHeart to duplicate Newsradio WOOD on an FM signal whose coverage areas largely mirrors that of AM 1300.


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Lester The Nightfly
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Re: Analyzing the Cumulus format moves...

Post by Lester The Nightfly » Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:50 pm

jaydubs wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:02 am
I am certain this is all because Cumulus was trying to head off a perceived Alt (or even AAA) move by iHR. It would have been the next logical thing to do on 101.3 with the terrible ratings it is getting. I think the market can support a AAA station, but it is going to take some good promotion and determining best how to get the 25-44 demo off their phones and onto a radio. GR is being known as an artistic and more youth oriented place these days, so that probably helped Cumulus’ decision, too. Time will tell, it is definitely an interesting choice...
I wonder if they believe they'll pry any ears away from WYCE or are the two that different?



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