seeking an unbiased opinion about country music radio

M. Casey
Thu Aug 8 15:41:55 EDT 2013

John, You pretty much hit the nail on the head.

But this just didn't start a few years ago. And, although young women 
dominate, (my 22 year old daughter & her friends mostly listen to it as well 
as some hip-hop, some house/dance, some rock, some harder rock, and even 
some classic rock), the format crosses to middle-aged women and to men of 
all ages also.

The popularity of Country with broad-based audiences started in the 60's 
(and maybe even before) with cross-over hits. That popularity just kept on 
growing as country artists more and more used sounds borrowed from Top 40 
Rock 'n Roll and found ways to better produce their music. That popularity 
went full steam to the urban masses in the 1980's when a number of country 
acts really became well produced.

WHN, AM-1050, in New York was very successful with an Northeast & Urban 
tailored country format. One trick was to program some Elvis tunes, and some 
of the other popular country crossover hits that made the top 40 rock'n roll 
chart. I don't remember why WHN quit. Maybe it was just AM, or maybe 
because, after a few years, there was some competition on the FM band from 
WYNY. After the success of WHN, and for a time, WYNY, it was ironic that the 
NYC market didn't have a full power FM country programmed station from 1996 
until earlier this year. Today, that "WHN" format has been very much further 
refined. If the format is properly tailored to the NYC market, I think 
WNSH-Nash 94.7 will be a ratings and financial winner.

In the late 1980's, we were applicants for a docket 80-90 FM allocation in 
Enfield, CT (97.9 which became WPKX Enfield-Springfield, and is now a 
talk/sports  station licensed to Windsor Locks, CT)  Our proposed format was 
what I called "Modern Country". It would be a refinement of that WHN format 
geared to a younger audience. A country top 40 format with recurrents and a 
few popular, but mostly upbeat, oldies. We were not successful with the 
license. A very short while later, WWYZ, 92.5 (Waterbury-Hartford) came on 
with a similar format and has been almost always been in the top 5, and 
sometimes #1, in the Hartford market ever since, and a consistent player in 
the New Haven and Springfield markets also.  WWYZ is somewhat personality 
driven also.

It's seems to me that the previous country stations that tried and failed in 
Northeast markets, did not have the right country format. There are several 
successful country formats in the south and other areas of the country but 
the one format that has been successful in the Northeast is the one you 
describe: aimed at young folks, especially women. It is modern, and has a 
rock'n roll and pop music production influence. Since the 80's, one of the 
keys to country format success in a Northeast US market, has been to include 
all the pop songs that even only slightly lean to country. And now, I can't 
tell you how many times I've heard friends say that today's well produced 
country really sounds like rock'n roll.

To answer at least part of your question, Donna, I don't listen to WKLB out 
here in Western Mass., but observing what's happened with WWYZ, WPKX, WHN, 
WGNA and other successful country stations, I've got to think that although 
the country audience in the Northeast US has increased steadily since the 
1960's & 70's, basically, little has changed in only the last 10 years as 
far as the audience goes, but that after a period of time, the station got 
the format dialed in with what Northeast US listeners want to hear from 
Country music. With a format refined for the audience here, there could have 
been a Country station in the Boston market consistently in the top 5, way 
back in the 90's and maybe even in the late 80's.

Mark Casey

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John Mullaney" <>
To: "Michael Wilkins" <>
Cc: "Boston Radio" <>
Sent: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 7:59 PM
Subject: Re: seeking an unbiased opinion about country music radio

Country Hit Radio is the new HipHop for young girls. The all age Arbitron 
category has always been owned by very young women. And young women also 
often win on what the car radio is tuned to. Today's hit country flavor is 
all aimed right at them. From Taylor Swift to all the good looking young 
guys now in Country. This is also what is hurting Jamn more than Amp or Hot. 
The number of young women that have shifted to country. No longer is it a 
working class mans format.

Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 7, 2013, at 6:24 PM, Michael Wilkins <> wrote:

> Donna,
> Last month's Friday night (July 12th) sold-out Jason Aldean concert set a 
> new single-concert attendance record for the concerts at Fenway. WKLB has 
> again (two years in a row iirc) taken the CMA Major Market Radio Station 
> of the Year award. Part of it is marketing (seems like there's some kind 
> of country music awards show on the major networks every third month or 
> so, as an example), part of it is the cross-format appeal (after all, this 
> is not your father's country music), and part of it is (perhaps) a growing 
> sense of "patriotism" among certain demographics.
> I have a friend who is Sony's New England country A&R guy... I can put you 
> in touch with him, if you'd like, he probably has a better inkling of 
> what's been going on.
> Mike
>> Date: Wed, 7 Aug 2013 14:45:57 -0400
>> From:
>> To:
>> Subject: seeking an unbiased opinion about country music radio
>> I am cross-posting this to several lists, to get a number of opinions.
>> As many of you know, a country radio station just reached #1 in the
>> Boston ratings.  Historically, the country format did absolutely nothing
>> here, and many stations that tried the format died. I consulted the
>> first successful country station, circa 1993-1994 (WCLB-- today WKLB)
>> but it too struggled to gain anything more than a niche audience.  So,
>> what has changed in the past decade or so-- is it how country is rated
>> by PPM, have audiences for country expanded, or something else? What is
>> going on that would take country to #1 in Boston?  (Note:  I am in no
>> way questioning the power of country music. It's not my music of choice,
>> but as a consultant, I grew to appreciate some of the artists and I
>> really was impressed by the loyalty of the fans.)

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