With ratings lagging behind the three other major signal rock stations in town, Rock 100.5 made a shift Saturday to significantly more current music – but then quickly reverted back to classic rock on Monday.
In another interesting shift, the Regular Guys Monday began playing rock music during their show, two songs per hour. On Monday, they played only recent songs by the likes of Papa Roach, Stone Sour and Theory of a Deadman. On Tuesday, they started mixing in older songs.
Over the weekend, songs from the past three years encompassed 30 percent of the music heard on the station, up from 10 percent on Friday.
Rock 100.5 had been gradually upping the percentage of new music in its mix since November, adding hits by the likes of Shinedown and Godsmack. The average age of a song October 15, 2011 was 1979. By last Friday, it was 1990. On Sunday, it was 1996.
Feedback must have been poor. On a Facebook poll the station posted Sunday morning asking if folks were “digging the music,” only 12 said yes, 115 said no.
The station reverted back Monday to two current songs an hour, the same as last week. Over this past weekend, though, Rock 100.5 skewed significantly younger, playing songs from the past three years about half the time and sounding a lot like Project 9-6-1. Among the 34 new (or relatively new) songs the station had never played before: Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “Monarchy of Roses,” Adelitas Way’s “Collapse” and Chevelle’s “Face to the Floor.”
[UPDATE on Tuesday, January 31, 10:55 a.m.: The station pivoted the music back during the mornings on day two, adding older songs into the mix. The eight songs heard today on the Regular Guys included Nirvana's 'Come As You Are," Van Halen's new song "Tattoo," U2's "Vertigo" and Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song." Also, the station went back to pure classic rock overnight. From midnight to 6 a.m., they played virtually all songs from the 1970s and 1980s and nothing from the past 15 years. And since 10 a.m., the station has continued in pure classic rock mode. Now I'm just mighty confused!]
[UPDATE on Wednesday, February 1, 8:30 a.m.: On Tuesday, reverting back to pure classic rock, Rock 100.5 saw the average age of a song fall back to 1980 compared to 1990 last Friday.]
When the Regular Guys came to Clear Channel’s 96rock in 1998, the male-oriented show played three songs an hour, “Southside” Steve Rickman recalls. But within two years, host Larry Wachs had convinced management to get rid of music completely. In past interviews, Wachs was adamant he wanted to do a pure talk/entertainment show. And when ratings started going up, he got his way. (I couldn’t reach Larry this afternoon.)
When the Regular Guys moved to Cumulus-owned Rock 100.5 in 2008, the station also agreed to air the show without music.
Rickman said he’s “fired up” by the changes. “I’m glad we’re not an alternative or classic rock stations. We’re just a damn good rock station,” he said. While a huge fan of 1970s/80s rock, he also likes to hear the latest Nickelback song, too. He also said he doesn’t expect the Regular Guys to play more than two songs an hour.
Could ratings be a factor in management deciding to add music to the Regular Guys show?
Rock 100.5 program director Rob Roberts declined to comment. (His boss John Dickey was out of town and hasn’t responded.) And Rickman isn’t sure who made the call on this one.
The Regular Guys has lost some steam in the ratings lately, especially over the past year. The first year of Arbitron’s people meters, the Regular Guys in 2009 averaged a 3.19 share among 25-54 year olds. That improved in 2010 to 3.88, but fell by one third in 2011 to 2.53.
Among 18 to 34 year olds, the Regular Guys had some huge numbers in 2009, averaging a 5.16 share, a top 5 station in that demographic. That fell to 4.42 in 2010, then 3.46 min 2011. That’s about one-third of its younger audience gone over two years.
Still, two songs is relatively modest on music radio.
Here’s what other notable morning shows in metro Atlanta do in terms of music, based on data compiled by Mediabase 24/7. During the day, most stations play about 12 to 14 songs an hour, which means not a lot of talk. A station which allows some talk (including news, traffic and commercials) will usually play 7 to 8 songs an hour.
Sister station Q100: the Bert Show does not typically play music from 6 to 9 a.m. but throws in 2 cuts during the 9 a.m. hour.
Star 94, Cindy & Ray play 7 to 8 songs an hour from 6 to 9 a.m., a bit more at 5 a.m. At 9 a.m., the station plays about 13 songs.
Rock station 92.9/Dave FM: Steve Craig does 9 to 10 cuts an hour from 5:30 to 8:30 a.m., then far more after that.
94.9/The Bull: Jason & Kristen play about 8 songs an hour from 5 to 8 a.m., then 10 during the 8 a.m. hour.
Project 9-6-1: Relatively new personality-based Kidd Chris show has been given a lot of breathing room. The station plays about 7 songs at 5 a.m., just 4 songs an hour from 6 to 9 a.m.
B98.5: Vikki and Kelly play 7 to 8 cuts an hour from 5 to 9 a.m.
Kicks 101.5: Cadillac & Dallas do about 8 cuts an hour from 6 to 8:30 a.m. but then go into more music mode after that.
V-103: Frank & Wanda plays 5 to 6 cuts an hour from 6 to 10 a.m.
Kiss 104.1: Tom Joyner plays just 2 songs an hour from 6 to 9 a.m., 4 songs at 9 a.m.
Fish 104.7: Kevin & Taylor run about 10 songs an hour.
105.3/El Patron: Patrones de la Manana runs about 8 songs an hour from 6 to 9, 10 songs at 9 a.m.
Wild 105.7: Elvis Duran plays just 3 songs an hour from 6 to 9, about 8 or 9 at the 9 a.m. hour
Atlanta’s Greatest Hits 106.7: Tripp West spins 12 songs an hour from 6 to 9, which is truly a more music morning.
Majic 107.5/97.5: Steve Harvey airs 3 to 4 songs an hour from 6 to 9, 7 at 9 a.m.
Hot 107.9: Rickey Smiley last Thursday ran 8 songs at the 6 a.m. hour, then 4 to 5 songs from the 7 to 10 a.m. hours.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk