Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10.16.13 Bee-otch of the Day: Northern Star Broadcasting

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Name: Northern Star Broadcasting
Age: 15
Occupation: media company
Last Seen: Traverse City/Cheboygan, MI
Bee-otched For: hitting the 'x' button


I love it how the rock format does very well - especially when it's programmed well - and yet, it's the red-headed stepchild of radio.

Here in Grand Rapids, WGRD is a well-programmed station and it shows. Last Summer, it was 3rd place overall in the ratings, even beating out the two CHRs. People love rock radio, but it's too bad when in some towns, the people running the stations act like they have their tail between their legs.

Up until last year, northern Michigan had a somewhat-decent station in Real Rock 105/95-5. However, starting late last year, they started dicking around with the format, adding in lots of 1970's butt rock normally heard on WKLT and Real Rock's sister, The Bear and it started to piss off their listeners. Then on April Fool's Day of this year, they dropped the 95.5 signal and flipped that to boring-ass AC as EZ 95-5/106-3 and the rock format was kept on 105.1 as simply Rock 105. So far, Rock 105 still does OK, but EZ isn't. So far, since flipping to AC earlier this year, their Facebook page has only had 90 or so likes while Rock 105 has more than 1,200, many of whom are pissed over the switch, especially those in the Traverse City area where 105.1's signal is horrible.

So, guess what? I took action, and wrote this on EZ's Facebook page last week:



For many years, I, like many who grew up in northern Michigan (and elsewhere) have had his or her likes and dislikes of the local radio scene. And sadly, WQEZ is a major DISLIKE.

Six months ago on April Fool's Day, you flipped 95.5 to WQEZ and demoted Real Rock 105/95-5 to simply Rock 105, angering many in the Grand Traverse region and those who love hard rock and metal. I look at Rock 105's playlist, and while it's not too bad, the problems include 1) the lack of current rock and 2) the fact that Rock 105 plays bands that no fan of hard rock and metal likes, such as Fall Out Boy, Tom Petty and All-American Rejects. Also, I think it's sad that you also canned The Asylum, which I thought was a decent show for a fake jock from Westwood One playing the same stuff you play during the week.

What should be embarrassing in your case is the fact that Real Rock 105/95-5 was your strongest station according to Arbitron. In the Fall 2012, Real Rock was at a 3.8 while Big Country was at a 3.0 and The Bear was at a 1.9 all signals combined. So what do you do? You trade off 94.5/93.9 to the teabaggers for 106.3, move the Straits area Bear to 97.7 and dump your EZ format onto 95.5. In the process, you also can Free Beer and Hot Wings, telling your listeners that the ratings were bad. You end up spinning the fact that both stations were at a 1.9, but that's a bunch of bunk. You kill off rock on 95.5 while The Bear was salvaged, even though that was the station that should have been killed off. KLT and its morning show made The Bear useless years ago. Bob and Tom are old, unfunny and no longer relevant, especially since the Janet Jackson nip slip of 2004.

Now, the general public has no access to the Fall 2013 Arbitron ratings. But there's proof that Easy 95.5 isn't working: this page. Rock 105 has 1,541 likes while Easy only has 90. It's true: virtually nobody likes 95.5 now. Rock 105's Facebook page has more complaints about the format change than this page has compliments about the fact that Traverse City now has a station that plays a lot of Barbra Streisand, James Taylor and other artists that nobody under the age of 50 cares about.

I know, Traverse City is quickly becoming a retirement haven for late-term Baby Boomers and it's not going to change anytime soon. But haven't you people learned the lessons others have learned regarding WSRT? It had awesome ratings as The Peak, but when it flipped to AC, it was a downright embarrassment. The only time it had good numbers was when the PD and his wife sent in fake diaries to Arbitron. Northern Broadcast finally got a clue and flipped the station a few times to its current ESPN format.

Heck, look at Lite 96: 3.5 in the ratings. Clearly, this market cannot support two ACs. This is a market where country, oldies/classic hits, CHR and rock are strong. AC is a dying format, and it's sad that instead of going after a sea of young, strong fish, you go after a few old shriveled ones.

Look. I fear for radio's future. Us in our 20's and 30's have a lot of alternatives to terrestrial radio. Up until a few weeks ago, I had Sirius. But, I dropped that for Slacker because that service is free and easy to program. You no longer have to worry about just Biederman, MacDonald-Garber, Northern or Henderson, because you're now dealing with the plethora of digital services out there that have every format out there, no matter where you are. All you need is a smartphone.

Because of this, and the fact that big corporations and labels are ruining radio stations of all sizes, I do wonder if your stations - and almost every station in northern Michigan - will be around 20 years from now. The fact that you've alienated a lot of the rock crowd in Traverse City for retirees with fixed incomes only makes things hard on you. Remember, when K-Rock in New York was blown up for Free FM when Howard Stern left for Sirius, the audience left in droves. But when CBS decided to bring the format back to 92.3, the damage was done.

All I'm saying is this: I hope that crow tastes good.


Yep, you guessed it: they deleted my post off their Facebook page. What a bunch of fucking cowards.

I think it sucks that the major station owners in northern Michigan - Ross Biederman, Trish MacDonald-Garber, Langer Gokey, Del Reynolds and Roy Henderson - all seem to pretend that there's no market for males 18-49 in northern Michigan. Yeah, there's Reynolds' 105, but sadly, like I said in the letter, they're only fetching their listeners a bone these days. There might not be a lot of 20- and 30-somethings who live up north, but being a four seasons area with skiiing, hunting, snowmobiling and so much more, there's always a market for rock up north that doesn't involve Styx, Foreigner or Lynyrd Skynyrd.

If I had the dough, I'd buy out Roy Henderson's stations, spin off everything except WLDR and maybe 750 in Petoskey. I'd maybe even plead to the teabaggers that own WYPV to sell me those stations too and I'd flip all three stations (four if you count translator 98.1 in Alpena) and flip all those stations to active rock. I think a kick-ass active rocker would do EXCELLENT in northern Michigan; it just needs a good signal to be competitive against WKLT or even The Bear. I think both stations are vulnerable these days because both are quite repetitive, plus there's Q100 out of Grayling, which I think is an awesome station when it comes to classic rock.

I know, all the station owners in northern Michigan - sans Biederman - are baby boomers, but it shouldn't mean that all of their stations should all have the same audience. What will happen to northern Michigan's stations 10 years down the road? 20? 30? Yeah, I know: northern Michigan's internet system's not the greatest, which might prolong their dependence on local radio. But, I sure as hell don't want to sit through the same 200 songs over and over and only get to hear one new song out of that bunch. Plus, I hate CHR and country, and classic rock and oldies are a hit or miss for me.

Cumulus, CBS and Clear Channel: they're aren't the only ones killing radio.  

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