Friday, September 12, 2014

Radio Disney is Done

No one was surprised on August 15th when Disney announced they were dumping 24 of their 25 radio stations. The only one they held back was 1110 KDIS-AM in Los Angeles. It sounds like a lot but actually some of them have been silent for more than a year. In 2010 the mouse took 6 stations silent at once with a set of STA filings. Those were for KMUS-AM, KALY-AM, WCOG-AM, WRJR-AM, WHKT-AM, and WMNE-AM. (The only one it didn't sell was WRJR which it only operated under an LMA.) So when they say they're selling.. they mean it. More here.

The reason was that only 18%  of their listeners access Radio Disney via terrestrial radio. The other 82% of their listeners listen via web streaming apps. More than four fifths of their listeners abstain from the radio dial. Ouch.  KDIS-AM will serve as the home studio of all online Radio Disney programming. The rest become chaff. All local positions will revert to national positions, 184 people will be laid off.In other words.. it's over.

What's worth mentioning now is that this isn't the first time they've tried to reboot the struggling chain. I cannot remember a time when one of the outlets appeared in an Arbitron ratings book. The network originally affiliates with stations of all sizes in all markets in an apparent effort to make their programming as ubiquitous as Starbucks. But back in 2010 they dove for the corner and retreated from the minors. [SOURCE] They backpedaled into the top 25 markets only and tried to hold the fort. the problem was that they were operating the last music formatted network on AM radio. The reason then is the same reason now.. music sounds terrible on AM radio. Their young demographic was just more willing to more to a web platform.

but perhaps the most important thing to remember about Radio Disney is that it's still quite young. The network was launched on November 18th, 1996 on the 68th anniversary of the debut of Steamboat Willie.That was less than 20 years ago. With a self-styled target demographic of ages 0 - 16 years they barely cleared two generations of listeners. In 2006 Billboard officially called the network a "Power player."  At it's peak they had 50 affiliates and a Sirius XM channel ostensibly reaching over 90% of the country. Now they're gone.