Country music is the most popular format on our nation's radio airwaves. It's a valuable art form that touches the hearts, minds, and souls of millions of people around the nation and even around the world. Yet some of America's largest cities no longer have country stations. We believe this is a disservice to the artists and their fans because it inhibits these valuable connections which can be a life-enhancing experience for all involved. Our mission is to help shed light on this issue to bring country radio back to the largest markets. We believe we can make a difference and we hope you'll join us in putting some more "Country in the City."
ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC PARTNERS WITH LIVE NATION TO PROMOTE "COUNTRY BASH '06" CONCERT
Academy of Country Music and Live Nation pledge to Keep Country Alive in Los Angeles with Country Bash '06
August 23, 2006 (Burbank, CA) - The Academy of Country Music announced today that they will partner with Live Nation to promote "Country Bash '06," an all-day country music festival featuring Gretchen Wilson, REO Speedwagon, Phil Vassar, Jamie O'Neal and SHeDaisy.The event will be held October 14 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Los Angeles.
"Country music has been a huge part of Southern California's heritage and with the loss of KZLA, country music's most listened to radio station, we need to Keep Country Alive in Los Angeles now more than ever," commented Bob Romeo, Academy of Country Music Executive Director. "It is an honor for us to team up with Live Nation to help promote "Country Bash." As a listener, a fan and friend of country music I want to do all I can to give back to the industry that has given me a life full of memories and given us all great musical experiences."
Tickets for Country Bash '06 will be available beginning Saturday, August 26 at 10AM at all Ticketmaster outlets including Tower Records / Robinsons * May / Ritmo Latino and Wherehouse Music locations, via Charge by Phone - (213) 480-3232 * (714) 740-2000 * (805) 583-8700 and at www.ticketmaster.com.
The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 with a mission to support, promote and enhance the advancement of the country music industry worldwide. The Academy, which is comprised of more than 4,400 professional members and more than 35,000 associate members, is headquartered in Burbank, Calif. For more information on the ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS and the Academy of Country Music, please visit www.acmcountry.com.
The letter writing campaign that country kitten is working on will be a great way for our opinions to be known and to accelerate serious discussions on the matter. The petition further drives the point home. It all goes hand in hand. We will get country radio back in L.A. In addition...
The following are comments that Whitney made at LARadio.com:
KZLA Afternooner. Whitney Allen, afternoons at KZLA until Thursday, said that she has been receiving emails at the rate of 5-10 a minute. "I have tried to answer every one of them. Which is fine, as obsessing on that slows me down on obsessing on the rest of the situation, which goes far beyond me losing my job," emailed Whitney.
Whitney was filling in for Blair Garner on the syndicated After Midnite when she signed off the last Country station in New York quite a few years ago. "I was certain that someone would grab the Country music banner and run with it in the Big Apple before long. Well, a lot of people are still waiting. I hope and pray that Los Angeles does no suffer the same plight."
Whitney continued: "The passion of these now mostly station-less listeners is OVERWHELMING. It is something that makes me sadder and more frustrated than I could ever have though possible. After all, as we hear over and over again, and even say to ourselves, 'it's only radio.' We sometimes forget, and we should not, the difference we can make in someone's day, or dare I say life. In my two plus years at KZLA I have felt embraced by these Country music listeners more than I have felt in any of my other 25 plus years in radio."
"The caliber of people I got to work with, the talent of the artists I got to play on the radio, the KZLA concerts that I was a part of...the things I learned - unsurpassed in my career," said Whitney. "I loved working for Emmis. I have never worked with such a great group of people as I have at KZLA. If I start naming names, I will leave someone out. But quickly, RJ Curtis tried to hire me for YEARS before I took the job. I am so thankful he was so persistent."
Whitney didn't start writing to LARadio.com to reminisce about the great times she had at KZLA. "I started writing in the hopes that someone will recognize the passion that is in the hearts and souls of these country music listeners. After Hurricane Katrina, KZLA asked listeners to fill a truck to take to the Gulf States, and what did they do? They filled a PARKING LOT. It was the first time in a long time that the generosity and compassion of listeners made me weep. They deserve a place to call Home."
By Charles Duhigg and Geoff Boucher, Times Staff Writers August 20, 2006
Cowboy crooners know that more country music is sold in Los Angeles than anywhere else, a distinction on display Thursday night when singers Faith Hill and Tim McGraw opened the first of three sold-out shows at the Staples Center.
But Los Angeles listeners would have trouble finding Hill, McGraw or any other twangy troubadours on the radio dial: On Thursday, the city lost its last country music broadcaster when KZLA-FM (93.9), self-billed as "America's most listened-to country station," changed its format for the first time in 25 years — to a pop format focusing on beat-heavy R&B and dance tunes.
The Burbank-based station's shift is part of a national trend. Although country fans have long been well-served in Texas, Indiana and other landlocked states, over the past decade stations have completely disappeared in New York, San Francisco and half a dozen other coastal markets.
The shift demonstrates how America's changing ethnicity is remaking media, especially in big cities. Because of their size and loyalty, minority audiences are becoming more coveted by radio companies than white listeners — at least in ethnically diverse metropolitan areas. Once-essential genres such as country, rock and classical music are increasingly being replaced by formats such as pop, hip-hop and talk radio.
Executives say stations are willing to make almost any adjustment to attract listeners at a time when radio audiences are declining industrywide. Just as cable television's niche programming has eroded the large broadcast networks' audiences over the decades, new technologies such as iPods and satellite radio are now drawing listeners looking for specialized playlists or genres disappearing from the dial.
Country and rock stations have been disproportionately battered by these new technologies, according to music analysts.
"Hispanic radio operators say their audiences are slower to adopt iPods and satellite radio," said Laraine Mancini, a Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst who estimates that KZLA's format change could increase the station's revenue by as much as 50%. "Hispanic and urban stations hold their audiences better, probably because their listeners don't switch to new technologies quite so quickly as white audiences."
For stations, choosing a playlist today is akin to mounting a political campaign in which disparate racial constituencies are stitched together in hopes of achieving a mass following. Programmers hope formats that reach across racial boundaries will trump genres appealing solely to factions of one group.
"The Los Angeles radio market is basically 40% Hispanic, 11% Asian and 8% black, and country fans are about 98% Caucasian," said Rick Cummings, a top executive at KZLA's parent company, Emmis Communications Corp. "My job is to attract as large an audience as possible. KZLA is now playing music that appeals to Hispanic adult women, and that will hopefully attract other suburban women of different ethnicities."
Those more beguiling tunes include songs by the Black Eyed Peas, Nelly Furtado and many other pop stars who are ubiquitous elsewhere on the radio dial.
Ironically, KZLA's change comes at a time when country music is flourishing. While album sales of most genres have declined, country music has experienced one of its best years. During the first six months of 2006, U.S. sales of country albums increased by 17.7% to 36 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Best sellers from bands such as Rascal Flatts and the Dixie Chicks have driven those increases.
Moreover, country music listening nationwide has remained steady for almost a decade, according to the radio-ratings agency Arbitron Inc.
However, the listening audiences of Spanish-language and urban formats such as rap and hip-hop have exploded during that same period, as cities such as Los Angeles have become more ethnically diverse. While Los Angeles' white radio audience has shrunk slightly since 1998, the number of Hispanic listeners has increased by almost 500,000, according to Arbitron.
The percentage of time spent nationwide listening to Spanish-language music has almost doubled since 1998, today accounting for 11.1% of all radio consumption. The number of hours spent listening to urban genres has also markedly increased.
"In all the major cities, even Top 40 and adult contemporary stations have started playing more rhythmic songs to attract minorities," said Lon Helton, host of the nationally syndicated "Country Countdown USA." "Country isn't able to do that because the songs aren't adaptable."
Country music has worked hard to keep up with America's changing demographics. Labels have spent millions promoting African American singer Cowboy Troy and Latino country guitarist Rick Trevino, but beyond those two, success has been limited.
"We spent close to $1 million going down the ethnic road, but almost all the artists we found were just poseurs," said Joe Galante, chairman of Sony BMG in Nashville. "Most urban artists grew up listening to urban music, and so that's what they play. We've all been looking for minority country musicians, but audiences haven't supported them."
In many ways, a country music-less Los Angeles is particularly jolting because of California's deep country roots. The birth of the honky-tonk "Bakersfield sound" in the 1960s gave rise to such stars as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens and added the "western" to country and western. California's ranching history and country-boots-on-city-streets vibe have contributed a twang to acts as disparate as the salsa-rock group Los Lobos and the Eagles. KZLA had been among the nation's most popular country stations since it started broadcasting the genre in 1980.
KZLA's switch drew widespread anger. Fans called the station and complained on message boards after the station announced the shift Thursday morning, right after rush hour. After its final country tune, by Keith Urban, came a pop anthem by the Black Eyed Peas.
"I almost threw up, I was so upset," said longtime KZLA listener and Mission Viejo resident Ruth Rogers, 53. "I think it's racist. This is becoming a nation of minorities. I'm not going to turn on my radio anymore. Country music promotes patriotism and family values, and they've replaced it with something that just promotes money and hate."
Country music executives were also dismayed.
"This is a huge disappointment," said Gary Borman, a manager representing country superstar Faith Hill, among other artists. "KZLA did a fantastic job building a country music community here, and our artists were proud to contribute to that. If radio executives can focus on urban and Latino listeners, why can't they focus on white America? This seems like the arbitrary hand of corporate America at work."
Country music label heads agreed.
"Los Angeles is our No. 1 sales market in America," said Bill Bennett, head of Warner Bros. Records Nashville. "If I were Sirius or XM Satellite Radio, I would see this as a major opportunity. We'll survive. New York hasn't had a country station in years, and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw still sold out Madison Square Garden. But it's a real blow."
But KZLA's operators remain confident in their choice.
"Radio is a pure numbers game," said Cummings, the Emmis executive. "A little over a year ago we changed an Indianapolis station to country, and it zoomed up the rankings. But Los Angeles is a minority market, and that's what we have to program for."
Even Cummings, however, worries what the change portends.
"I'm concerned that the homogenization across the L.A. dial is going to make it harder to attract young listeners. But if I just put on highly specialized channels, this company would die. There isn't much room for experimentation in modern radio."
Country Fan Link is proud to announce our new message board. Talk to fellow fans and radio listeners. Discuss KZLA or any other stations you miss. Brainstorm how we can help get more country radio in America's cities. Or talk about anything you like. The link is right here: http://xsorbit30.com/users5/countryfanlink/index.php.
<---- You can also find the link in the left panel over there.
Of the more than 10,000 radio stations in the United States, over 2000 adhere to the country radio format. New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are three of the largest markets for both listeners and for album sales. Yet, these cities no longer have country radio stations. Country Fan Link believes the health of the country music recording industry depends on a healthy country music radio industry. When a city has no country radio station, it makes it more difficult to promote an artist, whether it be sales of CDs or selling concert tickets, etc. Bearing that in mind, we kindly request that you sign our petition to help our project to promote more country radio stations in our major markets. Our beloved country music recording artists are busy making great music, performing live, and interacting with their fans. Let's give a little in return to help them achieve greater access to more people and to share the gift of music with everyone! Help bring country radio back to some of America's major markets. Sign our petition today!
Here's a statement from Vicki Pepper, Programming Assistant at KZLA, to all of us at CarrieNEWS who love KZLA:
My dear friends -
My apologies in advance for the mass e-mail....You are probably aware by now that KZLA has flipped formats from country to rhythmic a/c. This news was as much of a shock to me as I imagine it was to you. Many of you know that I loved KZLA with everything in my heart, and I have considered it nothing short of an enormous blessing that I was able to start my career with the most listened to country station in America. That said, I do look forward to the opportunity to expand my knowledge about radio and about other formats.
Shortly, we will be streaming country at kzla.com, and effective tomorrow, country will be the side channel on KZLA's HD side channel.
I am confident that all of KZLA's programming and airstaff will "land on their feet" following this change.
I will do my best to return all phone calls and messages, and I can't thank you enough for all the love and support you have shown me at this time. I probably won't have a lot of answers to any questions you may have, but I will do my best. Please be patient, as I will probably spend most of this afternoon on the phone with my board ops, interns, label reps, etc.
Country KZLA Gives Way To Movin Format; Rick Dees To Do Mornings
Rick Dees' New Home
EMMIS COMMUNICATIONS and DEES ENTERTAINMENT have announced the launch of MOVIN 93.9, "The Mix That Makes You Move," and former KIIS-FM/LOS ANGELES morning legend RICK DEES will do morning drive. The format change replaces the longtime Country format of KZLA. This leaves both NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES without Country stations.
"We’re overjoyed that RICK DEES will be joining EMMIS COMMUNICATIONS and Movin 93.9,” said Emmis Communications VP/Programming.Jimmy Steal. "RICK’s passion for LOS ANGELES’ morning radio is legendary and his live & local show is a perfect fit for MOVIN 93.9. We can’t wait for him to start! He’s the perfect compliment to this exciting new format."
"EMMIS is the perfect fit," said RICK DEES. "I’ve been presented with many opportunities, and the new Movin 93.9 gets me excited like I’ve never been before! We will have an All-Star team ready to deliver a great morning show for SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA."
EMMIS VP/Radio Division VAL MAKI said, "This is one of the most exciting opportunities we’ve seen in any radio market. The potential audience has told us that they want something new and fun. The combination of this music and RICK DEES make this the perfect answer to the needs of the marketplace. We are privileged to launch this station and I applaud the entire team."
The MOVIN 93.9 Rhythmic Pop Contemporary format is a creation of ALAN BURNS & ASSOCIATES, and features Rhythmic Pop Contemporary, with artists like BEYONCE’, GWEN STEFANI, USHER, JENNIFER LOPEZ, BLACK EYED PEAS, MADONNA, JANET JACKSON, and GNARLS BARKLEY.
KZLA continues to be available via Internet streaming as well as on MOVIN 93.9’s HD Radio side channel. Got to www.kzla.com for more info.
Welcome to Country Fan Link! This project has been in the works for a while now. Ever since I started following the career of Carrie Underwood last year, I've fallen in love with the format of country music. What we plan on doing with Country Fan Link this is to support country music recording artists, connect their loving fans, and to advocate for country radio and for all of country music, but from the fans' perspective.
Today's unexpected and sudden format change of L.A.'s KZLA from Country to Rythmic AC gives us good reason to start this project a little bit earlier than we had originally expected. Los Angeles now joins New York and San Francisco as the only markets without a country radio station. Considering that KZLA was "America's Most Listened To Country Station," there are obviously other market factors to take into account. Nevertheless, our goal is to support the genre and to connect country artists with their fans. We hope you'll join us as we strive to support the most popular radio format in America: Country Music!