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Wild Country to add a human element and more

WILD COUNTRY WILL HAVE LOCAL VOICE

When it comes to setting the standard for trying to fool listeners into believing voice-tracked talent from other markets is really local DJs, Clear Channel is unmatched in the industry.

In Tucson, the company has more radio stations than it has on-air talent based in the Old Pueblo, but that gap will close slightly once it names a local presence for country station KYWD 97.1 FM.

The small-watt FM signal flipped formats to country about a year ago, and this is its first foray into vocally enhancing any connection to the local audience. The role will likely be similar to what Carrie Moten does at KSZR 97.5 FM. Moten voice-tracks air shifts for the Cumulus-owned top-40 signal and then pops up at live remote events cultivated by the sales staff.

That will likely be the model implemented at Wild Country. Once you get past the music (and really, even that's similar. One has a top-40 playlist of about 14 songs; the other has a country hit playlist of maybe 20 songs), the two stations at the competing clusters have far greater similarities than differences. Both are broadcast on signals with limited FM reach, and both get slaughtered in the ratings by more established, stronger-reach stations operated by the other cluster.

Allegedly, i97.5 replaced the station's old Bob classic hits music format in an effort to take listeners from top-40 giant KRQ 93.7 FM, and Clear Channel countered with the same philosophy for Wild Country in an effort to lessen Cumulus country giant KIIM 99.5 FM's top-rated market share.

But more than likely the moves are just corporate edicts that follow one-size-fits-all cluster models for every city, with no real interest in what may or may not work in a given market.

RADIO RATINGS BACK TO SEMBLANCE OF NORMAL

A curious thing happened in the spring 2013 Nielsen quarterly radio ratings. KMXZ 94.9 MixFm was not ranked in the top three in the overall 12-plus market tabulation for the first time in recent memory.

That was probably a blip. Mix was second in the summer 2013 ratings period with an overall number of 7.5. That tied with top-40 station KRQ, although both trailed country format KIIM significantly. KIIM registered a 10.2, the only time any station has crept into double figures in over a year.

It was another good book for Cumulus classic hits station KHYT 107.5 FM. It has ticked upward in four consecutive ratings periods and registered a 6.1 to occupy the No. 4 position in the market. Classic rocker KLPX 96.1 FM was solid at No. 5 with a ratings number of 4.8, while KMIY 92.9 FM had its best showing since flipping formats from The Mountain, jumping 1.2 points, from 3.1 to 4.3.

Formats geared toward Hispanic audiences generally struggled in the summer 2013 book when compared to the spring ratings period. Clear Channel-owned KOHT 98.3 FM slipped from 4.9 to 4.1 while Lotus station KCMT 103.1 FM dipped from 5.1 to 3.5.

Among news/talkers, KQTH 104.1 FM surpassed KNST 790 AM as the market leader for just the second time in its six-year history. KQTH, owned by Journal Broadcasting, registered a 3.3 while KNST turned in a 2.6.

Clear Channel's decision to broadcast KNST on AM only, giving the FM signal to Wild Country, might have had an effect. In its last book as a simulcast signal, KNST delivered a 4.3 rating. Wild Country pulled a 1.3 in the summer 2013 book. If you combine the AM (790) and FM (97.1) numbers, the ratings figure is 3.9, which is close to what it was during the simulcast. But if the idea was to somehow project KRQ to be the No. 1 station in the market by attempting to pull audience share from KIIM, that strategy doesn't exactly appear to be paying dividends. And as a result, Clear Channel still has the No. 2 station overall in the market and the No. 2 news/talk station in the market, which isn't exactly familiar territory for a legacy signal that carries a syndicated lineup highlighted by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

TRN DISSOLUTION CREATES TALK RADIO HAVOC

Local news/talk stations KVOI AM 1030 and KQTH 104.1 FM have had to make lineup adjustments in light of problems with flailing syndicator Talk Radio Network.

KVOI had to audible from the Andrea Tantaros program to Dennis Miller weekdays from 8 to 10 a.m. when Tantaros, a relatively new figure in the talk radio landscape, got fed up with her syndicator, Talk Radio Network, and severed her relationship in addition to filing a breach of contract lawsuit.

This is from her legal team, as reported by Talkers Magazine: "Tantaros' attorney Joseph Cane alleges that, under the breach of contract portion of the suit, TRN has, due to financial troubles, failed to uphold multiple contract responsibilities.  'Plaintiff Tantaros found herself in a situation wherein she no longer had a competent executive producer, a full-time call screener, a paid assistant, or a sound effects manager, and further, had either no guests or only decidedly 'C-list' quality guests, was provided with no research for the third-rate guests that were booked for the Tantaros show, a lack of sufficient research for the topics at hand, provided with no editorial guidance, and she was expected by Defendant TRN to basically produce her own show...'"

I'm not entirely sure what Tantoros' concerns are. That pretty much sounds like a typical day on the job for talk radio hosts in Tucson.

At KQTH, the TRN fiasco has brought an end to the Jerry Doyle Show and Rusty Humphries radio programs. Dave Ramsey is now broadcast in the 1-3 p.m. slot while Roger Hedgecock, who originally aired overnights, has transitioned into the 6-9 p.m. time frame.

TRN stuff has gotten nasty. The company has filed suit against Humphries and Doyle for intentional interference with contractual relations and misuse of trade secrets, all in the midst of a companywide restructuring that took place last month.

More by John Schuster

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