Star 94, which has seen its ratings drop off the past six months, has rejiggered its on-air DJ lineup for the second time in a year.
Last spring, the station dumped the Morning Mess, moved Cindy & Ray to mornings and placed Ryan Seacrest’s syndicated show in the afternoons. Heather Branch became the mid-day host, taking over for Tripp West.
This week, Cindy & Ray (whose ratings have struggled in the face of tough competition since moving to mornings) have lost an hour, ending at 9 a.m. (More and more morning shows are ending at 9 and not 10 a.m.). Heather Branch moved from 9 to noon, instead of 10 to 3, shaving two hours from her shift. Ryan Seacrest gets moved up three hours to the noon to 4 p.m. slot. The new guy Chase Daniels (top left), who had come from Jacksonville, now runs from 4 to 8 p.m. and Darik starts an hour later, going from 8 to midnight.
Last month, Star had chased aggressively after Jeff Dauler of the Q100 Bert Show, hoping to break up that successful team. Instead, Dauler went back to Q100 after a painful negotiation, using Star as leverage and upping his pay to boot. I’m not sure what Star would have done with Dauler specifically. I presume he would have been given a solo afternoon gig, perhaps helping out Cindy & Ray, too.
Radio followers on radio-info.com wonder if Star is planning to drop Ryan Seacrest once his contract is up. The station now has more jocks than most stations, which typically rely on four major time blocks, not five. With economics so tight, this seems like an extra expense with no obvious benefit. I left a message with general manager Rick Mack and will update if he gets back to me.
The station has also dropped all pretense of being a top 40 station in terms of its music mix, which is now firmly “Hot AC.” Hot AC stations tend to skew older than top 40. Star is playing only 6 of the top 20 songs currently on the national top 40 charts. Among the songs Star is not playing: the No. 1 top 40 song by Kesha “Tik Tok,” No. 3 song by Iyaz “Replay,” No. 4 song by David Guetta “Sexy Chick” and No. 9 song by Jason DeRulo “Whatcha Say.” It’s now really late on anything remotely dance-like (such as Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” ) and is avoiding hip-hop completely. Star has never been a full-fledged top 40 station but earlier this past decade has played Eminem and OutKast.
Star is spinning 16 of the top 20 songs on the “Hot AC” chart, according to Mediabase 24/7. In comparison, Q100 gave 17 out of 20 of the top 40 songs at least five spins this past week.
The station is not exactly speedily adding new songs either. So far this year, Star has added only one new song to its playlist: “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum, a country crossover hit which peaked at No. 1 on the country charts a few weeks back and is still getting big airplay on the Bull and Kicks.
Why Star has been losing steam is not 100% clear. Country, which shares a lot of audience with stations like Star, has been hot lately. (Note the Taylor Swift/Lady Antebellum crossovers.) And Atlanta now has a dance-pop station in Groove 105.7, which may be taking a slice out of Star’s pie, too.