Wednesday, March 11, 2009

K-Rock is dead

Long live K-rock on HD? Yes the once mighty rock monolith has fallen... again. If you feel mournful you can visit their freeze-dried remains at Their motto "New York's only alternative is especially meaningful as they no longer occupy the traditional analog radio dial. WXRK is now 92.3 Now.

WXRK hadn't made it to a 2-share in the last year after abandoning the "Free FM" experiment in June of 2007. They never recovered their former success when they ditched K-rock the first time in January of 2006. This leaves WDHA as the only rock station in the number one metro in America. WRXP was quick to re-brand themselves as "101.9 RXP, New York's Rock Experience." The Emmis Triple-A outlet is making a play to usurp the K-rock audience. We'll see which one picks up listeners in the next book.

This leaves WXRK competing with four other CHR stations in the metro: WHTZ, WBLI, WPST, WSPK. It the maneuver brave or foolhardy? I have no idea. I thought tossing it the first time was retarded... Kind of like WCBS dropping oldies.

The flip was smooth as silk as we've come to expect from the Manhattan clutch. This afternoon, at ten of five they played Van Halen's Right Now which segued into a clock sound that stretched out for a few minutes. That broke through some SFX into a montage of pop music and clips that at 2 after the hour dropped smoothly into the Black EyedPeas' Boom Boom Pow.

But why? To quote Wikipedia here's what happened:
"Free FM's ratings had plummeted since the change to an all-talk format. As the replacement for Howard Stern, Roth lost nearly three-quarters of Howard Stern's previous audience, dropping a 7.9 share to a 1.8. Among the core audience - 18-34 year-old men - the numbers fell from 13.8 to 1.3. Overall station ratings went from 3.2 in Summer/Fall of 2005 to 2.7 in Winter of 2006, and later to a 2.0, leaving it in 20th place in the New York market."
In short, without Howard there was no K-rock. Until the Free FM brouhaha, K-rock had been K-rock since 1985. Sure the playlist changed the actual rock content waxed and waned but it was K-rock. they picked up Howard Stern in 1986 and that arrangement stayed rock solid (if you will) until January 2006 when Stern left for satellite radio. The station has never recovered. Long time GM Tom Chiusano bailed in January 2008. We all knew this was coming, K-rock as we knew it has been dead for years.