Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rock and PPM

With the news of K Rock in New York flipping to CHR from Rock there are some interesting questions on the format in general.  

K Rock launched 2 years ago as the news out of Philly's early days with PPM that Rock formats look to be gaining from the change in measurement systems.  The early graphs comparing the data clearly showed in Philly and Houston that rock radio's shares were a lot higher.  Back in the Fall of 06 both WMMR and WMGK in Philly were up over 70%.  

The thought was that with a broader panel that was in place for longer runs and able to be more 'controlled' for demo spread and the move to the meter, which didn't require writing it down or remembering listening would benefit rock.  Philly added a rock outlet and suddenly New York was back into rock with 2 stations added to the format.  

In the end PPM's benefits for rock may have cooled, but the reality here just may be that K Rock didn't do a very good job in launching the station and flat out failed.  Some of the likely reasons: 
  • Morning show - Oppie and Anthony may have had some interest in NYC, but it clearly wasn't enough.  They may have had a chance to really establish themselves if they had been able to build on their gains leading up to the Sex for Sam bit that pushed them off the air.  But, the years waiting to come back and the dominance of Howard took much of that avenue away.  
  • Music Image - In the end a lot of the station rode on O and A and tried to keep what audience they had to hang in there.  The problem is that O and A hurt any chance to develop a music image for KRock.  
  • Music Strategy - What was it?  They played everything from Classic Rock stuff like Heart to the latest from harder rock bands like Shinedown.  Really they only played 1 current an hour for the most part and tried to wander to Alternative, some pop Active Rock acts, and a bunch of Classic Rock all mixed in.  With another Classic Rock in the market and now a 'Adult Alternative' what did K Rock really stand for?   They could have been a more pure Alternative or Active rock and focused on the 18-40 audience but they took a broad approach and tried to cross cume with the Classic Rock and probably also reacted to the launch of the Adult Alternative.  The launch with the K Rock Los Angeles team sort of 'passing on the playlist' and then a number of shifts as they PDs left the station.  The air staff also wandered around.  Really the only constant here was O and A with a wandering approach in all the other dayparts
KRock could have taken advantage of the gains PPM has to offer (by fairly sampling 18-49 Men) if they had followed some basic rules to making a great rock station:  

  • BE LOCAL - This rings true more so in rock than any other format.  KROQ in LA is a very unique product that is tailor made for LA.   WDVE is different from most other heritage Classic Rock leaning stations - completely customized for Pittsburgh.   We could go on and on here.  You have to reflect your community in rock more than any other format.  This is really a street format and you have to come from the streets to build it.   Having an British guy in afternoons and a playlist mostly from LA to launch with really hurt here.  
  • ESTABLISH A MUSIC POSITION - There was plenty of room to come on and be the loudest, proudest and in you face rock station in NYC.  It was obvious and last year was a great year for this approach musically.  
  • A MORNING SHOW THE REST OF THE STATION CAN KEEP UP WITH - Not that O and A overshadowed the station by that much - but they made every day about them - not the station.  Also going with a Syndicated product that was in pressure for many markets as well as their XM deal really made O and A NOT a part of K ROCK.   They were from another planet beaming it into the biggest market in the country.   At least Howard earned a huge NYC audience before attempting to branch out.   
  • MORE THAN BILLBOARDS - Yes they had lots of them, but building a rock community in NYC would have been a lot more valuable.  Building the club and concert scene, getting your team out in the streets, and making the station musically special on a regular basis would have helped build more than just some rock cume passing through.   
When you look at WAXQ (Classic Rock) on paper or through the speakers the playlist is very New York driven and the air talent has a long history in rock in the area.  This station has worked the streets for a long time and is first in mind for rock music as it was the only outlet to count on for much of the last decade.  They were hovering around a 3 share in the old diary system - now they are a full share stronger in the 4s.  As K Rock leaves they will likely go higher.  

There are great opportunities for Rock formats with PPM.  The audience is at a very strong point right now.  But, you have to do the homework and hit the street.  This is not a plug and play format.  

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