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Kicks 101.5 skews older with more 1991-2005 cuts (welcome back, Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt!)

Garth Brooks is back in rotation at Kicks thanks to the station's new emphasis on older songs. CREDIT: AP

Garth Brooks is back in rotation at Kicks thanks to the station's new emphasis on older songs. CREDIT: AP

The changes at Kicks

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Kicks 101.5 shifted its music mix significantly on Friday, salting in more songs from 1991 to 2005 and cutting back on newer cuts.

This means artists that hadn’t gotten much love from Kicks in years (e.g. Garth Brooks, Patty Loveless, Jo Dee Messina, Travis Tritt) are back in rotation. Miss Randy Travis’ “Forever and Ever, Amen”? It’s back!

On Thursday, Kicks played 67% songs that were two years older or newer. By Friday, that percentage had fallen to 37%, according to data from Mediabase 24/7. The average age of a song on Kicks increased five years, from 3.5 years old to 8.5 years old.

Kicks now sounds closer to what Eagle 106.7 was before it died in early 2008.

This is the first major shift in Kicks’ music mix in at least a decade. It has been the market’s No. 1 country station for more than 15 years. From my memory, it has emphasized new music at least since ABC, which owned Kicks at one time, purchased Y106 (later dubbed Eagle) and differentiated the two station’s music by making Kicks focused on currents. Since 94.9/The Bull debuted in late 2006, Kicks and the Bull have gone toe to toe with a similar emphasis on a current blend.

Ratings for Kicks took a bit of a nosedive this summer, though its most direct rival 94.9/The Bull didn’t appear to benefit. The station was tied for fifth in April both overall and 25-54. By September, it was tenth in both categories and its 3.8 share overall was one of its worst showings since people meters were installed in early 2009.

Kicks was recently acquired, along with the rest of Citadel Broadcasting, by Atlanta-based Cumulus Media last month. New management obviously has a new strategy for Kicks. Budget cuts have already been made, resulting in the the departure of Kicks afternoon host Tim Michaels. Music director Mike Macho has taken over that shift.

This change will likely skew Kicks’ audience older. The Bull has generally done better with younger listeners but has generally lagged behind Kicks across the board this year.

See what happened in one day. Here’s a typical hour on the day before the change:

Kicks 101.5 at 1 p.m. Thursday, October 20, 2011
1:01 p.m. Rascal Flatts “Life is a Highway” 2006
1:05 p.m. Luke Bryan “I Don’t Want This Night To End” 2011
1:08 p.m. Taylor Swift “Back to December” 2010
1:12 p.m. Rodney Atkins “Farmer’s Daughter” 2010
1:16 p.m. Zac Brown Band “Knee Deep” 2010
1:19 p.m. Kid Rock “All Summer Long” 2006
1:23 p.m. The Band Perry “You Lie” 2010
1:27 p.m. George Strait “Here For a Good Time” 2011
1:29 p.m. Sugarland “Stuck Like Glue” 2010
1:33 p.m. Keith Urban “Put You In a Song” 2010
1:37 p.m. Brooks & Dunn “Proud of the House We Built” 2007
1:40 p.m. Dierks Bentley “Home” 2011
1:44 p.m. ad break
1:51 p.m. Kenny Chesney “Somewhere With You” 2010
1:55 p.m. Jason Aldean “Big Green Tractor” 2009
1:58 p.m. Sara Evans “A Little Bit Stronger” 2010

And here was what it sounded like yesterday:

Kicks 101.5 at 1 p.m. Friday October 21, 2011
1:01 p.m. Alan Jackson “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” 1991
1:04 p.m. Rodney Atkins “Take A Back Road” 2011
1:08 p.m. Faith Hill “Mississippi Girl” 2005
1:12 p.m. Trace Adkins “You’re Gonna Miss This” 2007
1:15 p.m. Dwight Yoakam “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere” 1993
1:19 p.m. Keith Urban “Raining on Sunday” 2002
1:22 p.m. Jake Owen “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” 2011
1:24 p.m. Garth Brooks “Two Pina Coladas” 1997
1:28 p.m. David Lee Murphy “Dust on the Bottle” 1995
1:31 p.m. Lady Antebellum “We Owned the Night” 2011
1:34 p.m. Brooks & Dunn “It’s Getting Better All the Time” 2004
1:38 p.m. Tim McGraw “Felt Good on My Lips” 2010
1:43 p.m. commercial break
1:50 p.m. Gary Allan “Her Man” 1996
1:53 p.m. Easton Corbin “A Little More Country Than That” 2009
1:55 p.m. Blake Shelton “Honey Bee” 2011
1:58 p.m. Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats” 2005
SOURCE: Mediabase 24/7

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

62 comments Add your comment


October 22nd, 2011
12:10 pm

Minor point- but Trace Adkins did “You’re Gonna Miss This.” Not “miss you.”

Rodney Ho

October 22nd, 2011
12:12 pm

Thanks. Typing too quickly there. Funny how the brain will shortcut things. When I see the word “miss” in that context, the first word that comes out of my brain is “you.” And that is a great, sentimental song by Trace…


October 22nd, 2011
12:29 pm

Good move. Too much of the newer country music sounds like bubble-gum pop. So much I have spent more time listening to the classic rock stations. Does anybody but Jamey Johnson make real country music anymore?


October 22nd, 2011
12:40 pm

Key line of the article…..”before it died”……good move, no way!


October 22nd, 2011
12:42 pm

Great move. Now maybe I won’t have to flip through stations to here the old ones.

Kennesaw Dave

October 22nd, 2011
12:55 pm

I like it. I think it’s a good move and I enjoy the variety.

Michael K

October 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

Still needs to go back to the county music, like it was in it’s hay day….Hire the same crew back!!
Moby is still missed in Atlanta


October 22nd, 2011
1:15 pm

Great move, but they need to add The Dixie Chicks to the play list. I mean, we have a double standard here. They get banned for speaking out about the Presidant, and Hank compares our President to a Nazi, and no one seems to care. PLAY THE DIXIE CHICKS.

ronnie laws

October 22nd, 2011
1:29 pm

twavis twitt are you kidding me,this old has been could’nt draw fly’s,cornball stupid old song’s, and garth brooks aint much better,too old


October 22nd, 2011
1:38 pm

If only we could silence big, fat, obnoxious MOBY! UGH!

Jack Nasty

October 22nd, 2011
1:39 pm

I agree with JMac, I would like to hear more Dixie Chicks and Trisha Yearwood!


October 22nd, 2011
1:54 pm

There is a new way to silence Moby. Some of the new radios come with some new features, including buttons (or dials) that allow to change to another station, and, in some cases, turn the radio off altogether.

go jackets

October 22nd, 2011
1:58 pm

If they play the Dixie Chicks, I change stations. And I also think Hank was wrong, but he WAS on American soil. It makes a difference.


October 22nd, 2011
2:03 pm

Still not country enough for me but it’s better than the watered down crap they call country today.


October 22nd, 2011
2:05 pm

I agree with the Dixie Chick comment but leave it to a GA Tech person to think a pro American is wrong about anything coming out of D.C. these days.


October 22nd, 2011
2:14 pm

Sounds like a great idea. however… we still need a little Hank Jr., Alabama, Sawer Brown, etc…


October 22nd, 2011
2:16 pm

The demographic wizards better recalculate and realize the age 19 to 34 crowds are not the only ones with $$$ to spend today…… go back to larger percentage of “real country music” and maybe some of the older crowd will come back…..


October 22nd, 2011
2:17 pm

Great move! I may actually listen some now.

Noone, Alot, Then, Than, it's & its

October 22nd, 2011
3:01 pm

There haven’t been new any country “artists” since the early ’90s, which is about the time real ‘country’ died. A guitar, hat and pedal steel don’t make it a country song.

Noone, Alot, Then, Than, it's & its

October 22nd, 2011
3:02 pm

… any new …


October 22nd, 2011
3:03 pm

the station still sounds unlistenable..

St Simons - we're on Island time

October 22nd, 2011
3:16 pm

every time you listen to a garth brooks song, your IQ drops 10 points and a kitty dies


October 22nd, 2011
3:28 pm

Anything that will keep less Taylor Swift and Zach Brown Band from being played is awesome. St Simons-I feel the same way but with Tim McGraw-haha!


October 22nd, 2011
3:38 pm

hey cousins, Fixin to go deer huntin with Jonah. Yeah Baby!!! I’m gonna bag a big one. Ya’ll quit hating on me just cuz I’m a fat slob. Yeah I need a haircut to and a wash. Ya’ll love my fake redneck accent.
Yeahhh Baby !!!


October 22nd, 2011
3:42 pm

shut up Moby, You phony wanna be redneck

ESPN: Blows Like the Wind

October 22nd, 2011
3:50 pm

[...] more Kicks 101.5 skews older with more 1990-2005 cuts (welcome back, Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt!) at Radio & TV Talk… You Might Also Like…The cuts at Kicks 101.5 and [...]


October 22nd, 2011
4:14 pm

These stations must have to pay royalty fees based on how old a song is or it’s standing on Billboard. No matter where you go in the southeast every radio station is playing old songs. Even the Fish 104.5 which played current songs has gone to this oldies format. Commercial radio continues to circle around the drain on it’s way down the tubes.


October 22nd, 2011
4:34 pm



October 22nd, 2011
5:16 pm

If you want “old” good sounding country music….AM 1060 out of Tallapoosa, Ga. If you can get AM on your car. I love it, good music and good DJ’s. Just saying……


October 22nd, 2011
5:31 pm

They need to go to the format that Eagle 106.7 played before the Bull came in. But that makes too much sense………..


October 22nd, 2011
5:42 pm

Looks like an overreaction to a disappointing book. Country already suffers from the most stagnant use of currents of any genre, this will only make that problem worse.


October 22nd, 2011
6:17 pm


October 22nd, 2011
6:18 pm

the 90’s had some great country in it! Great move! I love it!


October 22nd, 2011
6:43 pm

Concerning the Dixie Chicks———My problem is not what they said..they’re entitled to their opinion. My issue has always been where it was said—-on foreign soil. We’re all Americans. We need to stick together in other countries and support our President whether we believe in him or not.I think OBama is perhaps the worst President of my lifetime but if I would never rip him in a foreign country.

Floating IP

October 22nd, 2011
6:55 pm

Garth Brooks, didnt he retire like 30 different times now? I mean everytime he wants a new headline, he announces he is retiring. Getting old.

A Name

October 22nd, 2011
7:14 pm

@ Dave: Yeah, because insulting the President online is a much less public forum and there are none of those darn foreigners here.


October 22nd, 2011
7:27 pm

I was wondering why it was so bad today…some of the old songs they are playing weren’t even good back when they were released.

Tracy Lawrence

October 22nd, 2011
7:35 pm

I’m excited to hear this. No one has heard any of my songs in years. Thank you Kicks for giving me an opportunity to make a comeback!. Let me know if you want me to play any county fairs on your Kicks stage next year!

Miss real country

October 22nd, 2011
7:49 pm

I like this move. So much of the current stuff is just not real country. Taylor Swift is about as country as NYC is. I like some of the new stuff, but I miss a lot of the 80s and 90s stuff. I remember a time when 106.7 said they weren’t playing anything older than 8 years old. This was at the height of Garth Brooks. I said they, yeah, when “Friends in Low Places” is 10 years old, you’re never gonna play that. Yeah, right.

Alan Jaxon

October 22nd, 2011
8:29 pm

I noticed this yesterday in the office. I thought it was something similar to Star 94’s “90’s Weekend”. Glad to know it’s a shift in programming. I gave up on Kicks awhile back because of the shift to newer “country”. You can only hear Taylor Swift and Lady A so much before you become sick. Kicks should benefit because of it’s broadcasting reach. I don’t get the other stations that play the older stuff everywhere. Great move.


October 22nd, 2011
8:41 pm

This is why I only listen to my Ipod when In the car, working, going to sleep, whenever..I want the exact Mix I WANT when I WANT IT. Not programming that has been focused grouped thru pop culture myrmidons.

Here is what my 1pm to 2pm playlist sounded like:

GoldDust Woman (the mac)
Here’s a Quarter Call someone who cares (Travis )
I stand alone today (Jackyll)
Sweet Home Alabama (Synyrd)
The Rose (Bette Midler)
Country boy can survive (Hank)
Country state of Mind (Hank Double shot)
No Quarter (Led Zeppelin)


October 22nd, 2011
8:52 pm

and 3:30 till 5:15 pm was my All Waylon “F this client if I wasn’t making a ton off of them I would go burn their business to the ground”, commercial free block..


October 22nd, 2011
9:04 pm


That name sounds familiar..when I was younger my grandparents used to always have Ludlow Porch on the radio during the day at their house, are you that ray d ator?

Also although I am in the 19 to 34 demo, I generally detest 99% of what my (inferior) peers like. That demo is rapidly losing buying power as we are wedged between paying the insane social benefits of our parents and grandparents, and the devaluation of our dollar thanks to someone giving a Keynesian Kenyan a printing press. If I were in marketing, which as a sociopathic personality I am glad I am not, I would aim everything at 55 to 75 year old demo..they have all the money now.


October 22nd, 2011
9:24 pm

Love it. The one type of music Atlanta is missing is the older country, at least as far as I know. I am constantly listening to the classic country on Comcast simply because I can’t get any on the radio.


October 22nd, 2011
10:51 pm

@finally…you are an idiot! What is wrong with Zac Brown? Two awesome albums, hometown boy who has busted his ass playing live to get where he is and does more to support the troops than any other artist…get a clue!

Fan of Real Country Music

October 22nd, 2011
11:50 pm

Who still listens to commercial radio any more? And I do mean commercial, because that’s what you hear mostly.

I see one country song on each of the above lists. The rest are that tired pop sh*t that commercial radio calls country.

There is a song played occasionally on Outlaw County (Sirrius) that starts off:
“This ain’t a song about your grandpappy’s farm or your f*cking pick-up truck.”

Go to satellite radio and you will never go back to mostly commercial radio.

My Two Cents

October 23rd, 2011
12:06 am

They need to mix some old country in there, too. Forget the new stuff and play the old starting today!

Lester Miles

October 23rd, 2011
12:29 am

Play old and new just remove the grating sound of that whiny woman on Sugarloaf??. Not sure of their name but she is just plain awful. Worst voice country music has ever had. Tammy Wynette is the greatest ever. Have a great day

Lester Miles

October 23rd, 2011
12:32 am

sugarland is the name of the awful group. Now I remember and my ears hurt.