Friday, August 9, 2013

Country station makes its first trip to the top of the list

Yeehaw! WKLB/Country 102.5  kicked the dust off its boots and moseyed into a first-place in Boston radio ratings, a first ever for the country music station in this market.

With country music the most popular format in the nation, Country 102.5  jumped over the perennial favorite WXKS/Kiss 108 which has been holding on to the overall audience throne(listeners ages 12 and up) since 2008. Among that group, WKLB had an 8 percent share, a full percentage point higher than in June.

Country already dominates national radio, according to Arbitron ratings, with about 2,900 stations playing it, but the format in Boston has always been is a a bit of juggernaut of its own up until it landed on a much stronger signal in mid-2000's. On December 1, 2006, WKLB's parent company Greater Media swapped FM frequencies with classical WCRB which moved to 99.5FM. 

The listening audience for country keeps getting bigger and younger thanks to crossover acts like super popular Taylor Swift and shows like "The Voice" and "American Idol." Fans want to see their favorites - Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Zac Brown and Brad Paisley - play prime concert venues once reserved for Springsteen and the Stones. All of the above mentioned artists have already performed or will perform at the Comcast Center in Mansfield or Gillette Stadium in Foxboro this summer. Chesney has already sold out Gillette eight times before. He'll do it two more times later this month.

Country music format has always been a favorite of the 25 to 54 crowd, Arbitron's 2013 "Radio Today" report said in May, but it's now the most popular format for 18- to 24-year-olds and the second-most-popular choice for teens. In Boston, during July survey(June 21-July 18) among listeners 25-54 and 18-34, Kiss 108 held on to #1 position, however Country 102.5 was sitting pretty at #2 and knocking on the door.

Here are the rankings for Boston stations among the 4,012,500 Boston listeners ages 12 and up, Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to midnight. Numbers represent the share of the listening audience.

BRW Notebook :

Ins and outs :  As of August 1st, Boston market veteran George Knight is now heard on Emerson College's WERS 88.9. Knight was with Greater Media's cluster(WBOS 92.9, weekends/fill-ins at WKLB 102.5 and Magic 106.7) for the past 20 years and is best known for his eclectic Sunday Morning Over Easy show which ran on Radio 92.9 from 1997 to 2013. Since early 2011, Knight was also working at UMass/Boston's WUMB 91.9 in various on-air roles....Bobby Blaze is out as the afternoon drive-time personality at WJMN/Jamn 94-5.  The slot is being filled by weekend jock Maverik for now...Jamn's crosstown rival, WBQT/Hot 96-9 has added a couple of familiar voices to its weekend roster. Deirdre Dagata and Corey "DJ Hustle Simmons" Hill now do their thing Saturdays(2-7pm, 7pm-Midnight) and Sundays(10-3pm, 3-8pm), respectively....Speaking of Jamn 94-5 and Hot 96.9, Boston Business Journal tells the rhythmic tale of the tape after a 7-month head-to-head battle.

All Sales are Final : Boston University entered into the agreement to sell WBUR 1240 in Yarmouth to Alex Langer, which plans to change the station from a simulcast of its WBUR 90.9 to a Portuguese-language format to serve local Portuguese and Brazilian communities. The deal is pending FCC approval, and the sale price was not released.

WBUR 1240 was the first station on Cape Cod and has been transmitting since 1940. WBUR bought the signal in 1997.

Six months ago, WBUR bought WMVY 92.7, known as mvyradio, from Aritaur Communications. WBUR changed the call sign to WBUA and changed the format from music to news(BRW 2/7). The station reaches up to 60,000 listeners with a 3,000-watt signal. The market includes Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and coastal towns including New Bedford, Fall River, Falmouth and Westport.

“In February, when WBUR began simulcasting on 92.7 WBUA in Martha’s Vineyard, we recognized that our 1240-AM signal was redundant in its coverage,” said WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz in a press release.

For the past two decades, Langer has dabbled in buying and selling small, local AM properties. He already owns and operates Portuguese-language WSRO 650 in Marlborough. In addition to acquiring 1240 on the Cape, he's also in process of adding 1410 in Boston. All three AM stations(650, 1240 and 1410) will all have Portuguese-language 24/7 format.

Sign up : The Federal Communications Commission has launched the first application process for small community radio stations in more than a decade. Non-profit groups, schools and Indian tribes can apply for these low-power FM stations online at and applications are due during a two-week window Oct. 15 to 29.

New voice : Arun Rath will become the new host of the NPR newsmagazine "Weekend All Things Considered" beginning in late September, when the Saturday and Sunday edition moves its broadcast to the West Coast.

Rath has had a career in public media as a reporter, producer and editor, most recently as a senior reporter for the PBS series "Frontline" and "The World" on WGBH-TV, Boston. He has also worked for several NPR and public radio programs.

He began his journalism career as an NPR intern at "Talk of the Nation," eventually joining the staff and becoming the show's director.

In Boston, "Weekend All Things Considered" currently airs on WBUR 90.9(Sat and Sun, 5pm-6pm) and WGBH 89.7(Sun, 5pm-6pm).

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