Tuesday, December 13, 2005

WDET drops music programming

We've seen it before. The local public station drops the music programming and goes talk. The ratings often jump, but it is a sad day for all. WDET is dead.

A message on wdet.org states that the station’s music programming “posed challenges for station fund raising and audience growth.” A euphemism for "the old people don't like it, and they have the money." At the NON-COMMvention 2004 in Philly the "graying of AAA" was a hot topic. An exodus of non-com AAA stations flipping to News/Talk has been predicted by more than one radio pundit. Ever the cynic, I question this as the right choice. Register for the Non-comvention 2006 here.

I for one, see some of them eventually coming back to the music. While Triple A fears its aging audience, flipping to N/T is not the solution. The median audience for NPR talk is aging too. While ditching Triple A may yield better donations in the near-term, there is an inevitable problem twenty years down the line as these listeners... die off. Both formats are an endangered species. Was that a surprise? (pdf in header) I quote:

"The median age of an NPR listener is 48 and, while commercial radio stations have been very slow to recognize the potential of the over-35 audience, NPR regularly introduces that audience to new artists and music. While the NPR audience has grown, it has also aged. The average listener keeps getting older every year -- now up to 47 years old. That means NPR is not attracting younger listeners even though more people are tuning in." More here.

In particular WDET is flipping News/talk in the same market at the already established WUOM. So now they directly compete or the same "graying" audience. AND the Canadian public station CBE. Ultimately I see this as a long hard road for all of them. More here.