KFRG is not giving up on country
So, is country still cool?
Absolutely. Just not in the Los Angeles radio market where KZLA-FM (93.9), that area's last holdout for the likes of Tim McGraw and Willie Nelson, ended its 26-year association with the format in rather fitting fashion on Aug. 17. Morning host Shawn Parr played the Keith Urban rendition of "Tonight I Wanna Cry."
But nobody wants to cry in the Inland area where a Frog and a Toad insist they are extremely happy with country music's good old boys (and girls) and have no plans to abandon them.
KFRG-FM (95.1) brass are particularly happy. Their 5.3 Arbitron share is topped only by the 6.2 of long-running area leader KGGI-FM (99.1), and program director Lee Douglas says he sees no reason to fix something that isn't damaged. Or, as he puts it, "The Frog is eternal. We're not going to change."
Neither is the smaller Toad at KTDD-AM (1350). Like KGGI, it is the property of Clear Channel Radio. The station's vice president and market manager, Bob Ridzak, insists that its classic country format is going to hold firm. And he and Douglas both question the KZLA decision to switch to an adult contemporary pattern.
But that change, they claim, will not have much affect on local radio listening habits. On the other hand, Douglas points out, KFRG does reach "about 50 to 60 percent of the Los Angeles area. So we may pick up some audience there."
Ridzak says he finds one especially intriguing thing in the KZLA move: "I think they're trying to be another KGGI," he declares.
Sean Ross, vice president of music and programming for Edison Media Research, says that is probably a pretty accurate observation. "But," he adds, "nobody in L.A. is doing what KGGI does. Theirs is a format that covers several different age groups. It takes two to three L.A. stations to do that and KGGI does it by itself in the Inland Empire."
But all this, Douglas says, does not deter from the fact that something had to be done because "I don't think KZLA had any growth left in them." However, he, Ross and Ridzak feel that this is not going to mean the end of country music in L.A. and all seem to agree that another station will change format to enter the field.
But was this particular move a wise one for KZLA? Ross says there is no way yet to determine that although in some respects it could make good business sense, especially if there is a blending of sales staffs with KZLA's Emmis Communications sister station KPWR-FM (105.9). Meanwhile, Ross, Ridzak and Douglas agree that the station is barging into an extremely crowded field.
It hopes to gain an edge, though, by taking on a new ambience -- now referring to itself as Movin' 93.9 and it has signed on former KIIS super star Rick Dees as its morning show host.
Ridzak says he wonders how that move will work. "Rick Dees did an excellent job during his time at KIIS," he says. "But how long ago was that? And look at the audience they're aiming for now. How is Rick Dees going to relate to a 21-year-old female?"
Still to be determined at deadline time was whether KZLA will continue to carry the NASCAR racing broadcasts that were scheduled through Nov. 19.
However, racing fans should find enough this weekend to fill all appetites.
KFRG Frogmen Scott Ward and Tommy Carrera will be at the California Speedway on Friday to do their 5-9 a.m. show live from the infield.
The Fontana racetrack hosts three days of racing culminating in the Sony HD 500 on Sept. 3.
Ward says their schedule is still being set but it is expected to provide a number of special events that will include driver interviews.
Other shows are now in the planning phase.
KTDD will have Bill Georgi and Greg Cozzo at the track to cover a full slate of racing events Saturday and Sept. 3.
KGGI program director Jesse Duran says the station is lining up a roster of guests for special racing broadcasts set for 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 3.
KGGI morning host Jeff Pope says he and radio partner Evelyn Erives now have a new song parody to follow their recent "Ridiculous" spoof of Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous."
This one takes off on "Superman" by High Desert rapper Brown Boy. It's called "Aquaman" and is described by Pope as a tribute "to one of our least respected super heroes."
It can be picked up at www.myspace.com/jeffandevelyn
Source: San Bernardino Sun