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  1. #1

    Default Fresh Listen: Country?s No. 1 Club

    From Radio Insight:

    When the August PPM ratings began rolling out a few weeks ago, one of the biggest stories was KSCS (New Country 96.3) Dallas,which was up 4.5-4.9, returning Country radio to first place in a top 10 market.
    Even a month earlier, Country?s showing in both PPM and the spring ratings from diary markets had been confoundingly inconsistent, with both big gains and losses, and some heritage Country radio markets where stations were now fighting it out in the three-and-four-share range. KKWF (The Wolf) Seattle was a market leader, in part because of the loss of rival KNUC.
    By the end of the August ratings, there were four Country No. 1s, also including KYGO Denverand WCOL Columbus, Ohio.Other strong showings included WYCD Detroit, which lost its own rival recently, as well as KCYY (Y100) San Antonio, Texas, and WPAW (The Wolf) Greensboro, N.C., which has been one of Country radio?s most musically aggressive stations in recent years.
    I took a Fresh Listen to all four of August?s No. 1 stations. In part, I was looking for the presence of what I?ve come to call ?Active Country,? the more traditional, but also more rock group of artists represented by Morgan Wallen and those who broke with the help of streaming after him. Everybody?s parameters vary. I think of Active Country as Zach Bryan, Cody Johnson, Lainey Wilson, HARDY, Jelly Roll, Bailey Zimmerman, etc.*
    I?ve been using the term ?Active Country? in part because of the genre?s connection to Active Rock. I tend to think of Luke Combs as the last superstar to emerge through the mainstream model, but his traditional lean probably qualifies him as well. So does the sound of ?Love You Anyway.? And nothing is more 2023 Country than ?Fast Car,? a folk remake that built traction through its live videos before becoming a multi-format hit.
    ?Active Country? artists aren?t the only ones making Country hits that resonate with active Country listeners. But they represent an interesting crossroads for Country stations that were just starting to realize that being ?No. 1 for New Country? might not be a silver bullet after several years in the late ?10s when there was less excitement being generated by current product. The last year has seen a lot of new music worth leaning into. But we?ve also seen the renewed strength of late ?90s/early ?00s Country after several years when it wasn?t as present on Country radio.
    Here?s what I took from the four monitors:
    ?New Country? still matters in imaging. Only KKWF isn?t using ?No. 1 for New Country? as a positioner. The Wolf made a move to a more yesterday-and-today position even before rival KNUC left the format and took the ?New Country? positioner with them. WCOL is also on a similar yesterday-and-today template, with a smaller library and more ?90s than the other three stations, but does reference ?New Country,? particularly for currents.
    To a large extent, the Morgan Miracle and/or ?Active Country? is represented heavily by Morgan Wallen himself. KSCS, KKWF, and WCOL all played Morgan twice in the 2 p.m. hour I monitored. KYGO had him once, but had Luke Combs twice that hour.
    KSCS and KYGO had the greatest ?Active Country? presence. Each station had five artists that I?d code as ?Active Country.? KKWF had two Morgan titles and Zach Bryan. WCOL had two Morgan songs and Jelly Roll?s ?Need a Favor.?*
    On two of the four winning stations, Zach Bryan?s ?Something in the Orange? still has a significant presence. It was a song that many Country stations fought at the time, but ?Something in the Orange? is now the No. 1 song on KYGO with 59 spins last week, according to Mediabase. It was getting 15 spins a week at KKWF, which wasn?t particularly leaning into the ?Active Country? acts. (The Wolf?s Audacy ?Midday Power Hour? guest host that day was Thomas Rhett.)*
    The artists with the greatest non-music presence fluctuate depending on touring/station shows. KSCS was sponsoring a Brian Kelley show on Sept. 13, making him the artist most talked about between the songs. But last week, KSCS was also giving away win-before-you-can-buy tickets to Tyler Childers. KYGO was promoting its upcoming Hoobajoob show with Justin Moore and Scotty McCreery.*
    Most stations are still blurring the line between power and recurrent for their most-played songs. Sometimes a station?s confidence in current product is measured by whether an older song can still find its way to current based on callout. KKWF still had Wallen?s ?You Proof? as a power. KYGO has Old Dominion?s ?Memory Lane.? WCOL is still powering Justin Moore & Priscilla Block?s ?You, Me & Whiskey. The only exception was KSCS and that?s based on my determination that ?Fast Car? by Luke Combs is still a current, even though it?s been moved to recurrent on the charts, because of its multi-format presence and quick chart ascent.*
    All four stations still have some ?90s/early ?00s component. Even with KPLX specializing in gold-based Country, KSCS goes back to 1997 for Tim McGraw?s ?Where the Green Grass Grows.? The Wolf is playing Reba McEntire?s ?Fancy? four times a week. WCOL has a handful of early-?90s boom titles getting a few spins a week, going back to John Anderson?s 1991 ?Straight Tequila Night.? KYGO starts with George Strait?s ?Check Yes or No.? In the hours monitored, the oldest song was between 2001-04.
    Top spin on powers was relatively similar; library sizes varied a little more. All four stations were between 55-63x a week. WCOL had the smallest library, based on songs getting two or more Mediabase spins per week (232) while KSCS had the largest (298).*
    KKWF was monitored in Ross On Radio last month in an article on ?Country vs. Classic Rock.? Here are Fresh Listens to the other three stations.
    Here?s KSCS at 2 p.m. on September 13:

    • Jason Aldean, ?Try That in a Small Town?
    • Miranda Lambert, ?Over You?
    • Cody Johnson, ?The Painter?
    • Florida Georgia Line, ?Cruise?
    • Morgan Wallen, ?You Proof?
    • Kenny Chesney, ?Young?
    • Lainey Wilson, ?Watermelon Moonshine?
    • Luke Bryan, ?But I Got a Beer In My Hand?
    • Jon Pardi, ?Heartache Medication?
    • Luke Combs, ?Love You Anyway?
    • Dierks Bentley, ?Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)
    • Morgan Wallen, ?Wasted on You?
    • Carly Pearce & Lee Brice, ?I Hope Your Happy Now?
    • Nate Smith, ?World on Fire?

    Here?s KYGO at 2 p.m., September 13:

    • Parmaleee, ?Girl In Mine?
    • Cole Swindell, ?Single Saturday Night?
    • Luke Combs, ?One Number Away?
    • Jordan Davis, ?Next Thing You Know?
    • Brothers Osborne, ?Stay a Little Longer?
    • Chris Stapleton, ?You Should Probably Leave?
    • Lainey Wilson, ?Watermelon Moonshine?
    • Chris Janson, ?Good Vibes?
    • Dustin Lynch f/Mackenzie Porter, ?Thinking ?Bout You?
    • Luke Combs, ?Love You Anyway?
    • Kenny Chesney, ?I Go Back?
    • Morgan Wallen, ?You Proof?
    • Dan + Shay, ?Save Me the Trouble?
    • Corey Kent, ?Wild as Her?
    • Cole Swindell, ?Let Me See Ya Girl?
    • Zach Bryan, ?Something in the Orange?

    Here?s WCOL at 2 p.m., September 13:

    • Justin Moore & Priscilla Block, ?You Me and Whiskey?
    • Sam Hunt, ?Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90s?
    • Morgan Wallen, ?Last Night?
    • Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood, ?Remind Me?
    • Russell Dickerson, ?God Gave Me a Girl?
    • Brooks & Dunn, ?Neon Moon?
    • Dylan Scott, ?Can?t Have Mine (Find You a Girl)?
    • Darius Rucker, ?Wagon Wheel?
    • Jelly Roll, ?Need a Favor?
    • Luke Combs, ?The Kind of Love We Make?
    • Thomas Rhett, ?Angels?
    • Kane Brown f/Lauren Alaina, ?What Ifs?
    • Morgan Wallen, ?Wasted on You?




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