The Pebbling of Rock Radio

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February 5, 2013
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February 19, 2013

The Pebbling of Rock Radio

 I will freely admit that I am a lifelong hard rock and heavy metal fan. Here in Philadelphia, much to my disappointment, we are down to only one active rock station in the area, WMMR. It led me to start wondering about what was going on in Rock Radio in other major markets.

The media team here at TRA works to keep up with trends, both nationally and locally. On February 1st of this year, two Cumulus stations in Atlanta merged; classic rock “Rock 100.5” WNNX and active rock “98.9 Bone” in an attempt to have a more dominant rock presence in the market, as well as freeing up one of the FM frequencies for a potential new format.

In New York, the top US ranked market, only one rock station cracks the top 10. According to Fall 2012 Arbitron numbers, WAXQ-FM (Classic Rock), checks in at #9. In the number two market, Los Angeles, only three stations make the top 20; KROQ-FM (Modern Rock, #8T), KSYR-FM (Modern Rock, #17) and KLOS-FM (Classic Rock, #20).

So what exactly has happened? Why are Rock formats dropping in rank? For starters, there are many different sub-genres of rock music that divide up one loyal listening audience:

  • Active Rock
  • Alternative Rock
  • Album Oriented Rock
  • Classic Rock
  • Mainstream Rock
  • Modern Rock
  • Progressive Rock
  • Psychedelic Rock
  • Rock
  • Rock en español
  • Soft Rock

Classic Rock stations face the need to update their catalog with “newer” material, just so they don’t get lumped into the same category as Oldies stations. The entire grunge movement from the early 90’s, and all the iconic debut albums by bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden, all can now be considered classic rock.

Other classic rock artists, like KISS, rarely get airplay beyond their heyday hits, despite releasing new music and continuing to play concert dates in the present day.

So how does this all fit into how rock radio can help clients? Well, like anything, it’s all dependent upon each individual client and their goals, as well as the marketplace.

Rock’s evolution into a rock pile of formats is great news for advertisers who need to target market segments, rather than the general population.

If one client has had success on a Classic Rock station with Adults 25-54, but they want to sell a specific product line to 18-24 year olds, they now have the option of advertising on a Modern Rock station in order to reach that younger audience without spending for advertising impressions beyond their target.

If another client wants to hit the both Men 18-34 and Women 35-64, they might find the highest ROI is splitting the budget between an active rock station to target men, and a soft rock station to target the women.

It’s this kind of attention to detail that the Radio Agency provides to each and every one of its clients.  We love radio.  Call us and you will, too.  We see the value in a box of rocks.

Greg McGlone is a Media Buyer at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the email or RSS links above. Visit our website