2015? You Said It!
December 2, 2015
Hey, 2015. Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'? That you're almost over but it feels like we only just met? You know - kinda like that song Carol Burnett always used to sing at the end of her variety show: "Seems we just get started and before you know it - Comes the time we have to say, 'So long.'" And then she'd tug her left ear lobe?
Yeah (sigh), me too. But we had a good run, didn't we? And here in "The 'Ville," in case you didn't know, a lot of us were talking about you all year, behind your back. All good, 2015, all good. But man, you came at us so fast and furious; we had to analyze you on the run.
But, you're just about done, and soon it'll be time to step aside for that young, up-and-coming whippersnapper, 2016. Tell him or her to be nice to us, will ya? Our heads were spinning when you were around. Heck, they still are.
We tried to predict you when your predecessor, 14, was still around. Would you bring us more female artist success? A more traditional sound? What about those other whippersnappers, the 18-34s - would they take over Country music? Is that why 25-54s are flocking to Top 40? And, 15, why in the wide world of sports can't radio develop great, young air talent? Speaking of young, we did meet three future format stars when we talked to the CRS Rusty Walker Scholarship honorees.
But we lost another Walker - Jeff - and that was devastating, just two months after CRS honored him with its President's Award. CRS Artist Career Achievement recipient Dwight Yoakam reminded us that belief in your music - your vision - will eventually take you to where you want to be. Some radio pros breathed new life into our passion for the biz; a few others were just happy to be around after battling health issues. And what was the big deal over a "Girl Crush" anyway?
Yep, 2015, you were a helluva good year - or, as Taylor Swift prefers to say, "Hella." Was it challenging? For sure. Would we do it all over? Nah! Time to move forward (F.I.D.O.). But looking back, it was an adventure, right?
Here's just a sample of what we had to say about you, 15:
"There will be at least two female breakthrough acts in 2015, possibly three." - WUSY/Chattanooga PD Gator Harrison.
"We can't start adding music just to get females on the station." - KKGO/Los Angeles PD Tonya Campos.
"I think the pendulum is swinging back a little in the direction of a more traditional sound, but it doesn't feel like that big of a deal to me; this format always has a way of balancing itself, despite what some critics may believe." - CBS Radio KILT/Houston APD/MD Chris Huff.
"I do think we'll see some more traditional sounds accepted, but I don't think this will be the year the cycle changes completely." - KSON/San Diego PD Kevin Callahan.
"The Country format has always been about real life - happy, sad, party, pensive. All of the emotions that encompass the human experience. That's the definition of true Country variety." - Hunt Media Pres. Phil Hunt.
"They're finicky. They'll follow trends and fads. What's the next big thing for them? I think it's been a concern since we saw this pop in the 18-34s that as quickly as they come in, they can go out." - Then WPOR/Portland ME (now WGNA/Albany, NY) Brand Mgr. Matty Jeff, on 18-34s.
"If you paid a lot of attention to 18-34s, forgot about 25-54s and more specifically the 35-54s, then you probably have some problems. If you spend more time paying attention to your target and enjoying the benefit of the outliers as you get them, good for you." - Former Lincoln Financial VP/Programming John Dimick.
"On a 25-54 basis, we're actually seeing that's where the biggest [Top 40] growth is coming from. In fact, it's really been like 25-34 and 35-44. That's what is driving it. Top 40 has quietly taken the throne among 18-34s and 25-54s, ranking #1 in both nearly every month." - Nielsen VP/Audience Insights Jon Miller.
"That's kind of a scary statistic when you look at it. If Country radio doesn't start paying attention to this, more of our 55s will become their 36s - meaning we'll start losing P1s." - KSCS/KPLX/Dallas OM JR Schumann, responding to the stat showing Top 40 is more important to 18-34 Country fans than Country is to Top 40 fans, and so is Hot AC.
"Country is special in that it's a format that has really broad appeal across a lot of different demos. Pop is sort of doing it, but there's not a long list of formats that can appeal and be just as strong with an 18-24 demo as a 25-54 demo. That speaks to the uniqueness of Country music as a genre." - Nielsen VP/Audience Insights Jon Miller.
"From a Country music format perspective, I think it's really important for people in the business to understand that the younger you go, the more that AM/FM radio takes a back seat." - Edison Media's Tom Webster.
"Maybe the real controversy is that a 6/8 ballad is on Country radio." - Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild, talking about "Girl Crush" and its (then) slow start at Country radio.
"The song is about jealousy. Country music has always had great songs of jealousy, and I think that in particular this is a brilliant story about jealousy." - LBT member Jimi Westbrook.
"This could be a career record for them." - Capitol Nashville VP/Promotion Shane Allen, in week 12 of "Girl Crush." (The song went on to win CMA Single and Song of the Year honors, while LBT won Vocal Group of the Year).
"My goal, ultimately, within doing this radio thing and being a Millennial, is to make radio cool and fun for my generation, because we have a lot of options. Radio is where all the options originally started." - iHeartMedia Country WBWL/Boston night personality Colton Bradford, CRS 2015 Rusty Walker Scholar.
"I honestly fell in to radio ... and it kind of just turned out to be a wonderful surprise." - Entercom Country KWJJ/Portland's Annie Brooks, CRS 2015 Rusty Walker Scholar.
"When I first started in radio, my goal was - and always has been - to be in a big market on a morning Country radio station. That has always been my goal. And I always - even to this day, when I have an evaluation, that's what I say. That I want to be on a #1-rated morning show in a huge market." - Neuhoff Media Country WFMB/Springfield, IL morning co-host Andi Brooks, CRS 2015 Rusty Walker Scholar.
"After the three days at CRS, I'm convinced that I want to be a part of it all. I'm in love with radio; I'm in love with Country music, and CRS brought those things together." - Grace Lenehan, a student at Otterbein University in Ohio, who volunteered during CRS 2015.
"We are in a serious talent development crisis that has gotten worse in the last five years." - Talent coach Randy Lane.
"I would love to see radio embracing personalities again. If radio simply becomes a jukebox, it can't compete with Pandora and Spotify. But if they can play to what their strengths really are - developing personalities who are passionate about Country and who educate people about Country music and the artists - then they have a premium seat at the table." - Edison Media's Tom Webster.
"Some people can be really engaging characters and/or personalities in the real world, but when you put them in front of a microphone, they freeze up, and they're not the same person." - Randy Lane.
"You've got to know what you want people to feel when they take delivery of the product." - Talent coach Steve Reynolds.
"There are just a lot of programmers who have focused on the science of radio, the research, the structure, PPM and the marketing, and they're just not as qualified to work with talent." - Lane.
"I believed in the music. I always believed in that kind of the classic, foundational form of Country music ... I believed the music would take me to where I was intended to go, if I was going to go someplace. And it really did." - Dwight Yoakam.
"Ya know, the word Outlaw is the worst. Do you know what an Outlaw is? An Outlaw is somebody like Waylon Jennings or any artist who makes good music of their own. And they may not do it exactly the way everybody else does, and then they're called an Outlaw! Isn't that the dumbest term in the world?" - Hank Williams, Jr.
"This award means so much to me - just to see other people recognize your efforts and what you've tried to do is so fulfilling. It's really so special to me, and I hope I have many more years to spend with CRS." - Jeff Walker.
"You feel like you're dying, you look like you're dying, people look at you like you're dying, and doctors are telling you you're dying." - iHeartMedia/Springfield, MA SVP/Programming John Thomas, talking about undergoing cancer treatment.
"Radio is still a great gig, because we get to work with emotional plutonium: music that moves, talents that connect, and voices and hands that made their local communities a better place." - Phil Hunt (President, Hunt Media).
"There's no better feeling than truly being there for someone when they need you. Radio does that - in emergencies - and every day as a companion." - Beverlee Brannigan, Scripps VP/Programming & Wichita Market VP/GM.
"Damn, it's fun!" - Fletcher Keyes, WWQM/Madison PD.
Damn, it IS fun! Okay, 2016, you've got next. Show us what you've got and bring your A-game; we're getting ready for you now.