Cumulus' John Dickey Shares More 'Nash Icon' Detail
August 25, 2014 at 4:25 PM (PT)
CUMULUS MEDIA EVP/Co-COO JOHN DICKEY TODAY (8/25) dedicated a conference call to further outline the company’s recently launched “NASH ICON” format strategy, saying “It is time for Country to fragment.”
DICKEY described the format’s current state “An historic time for Country,” saying NASH ICON represents “What I would consider to be another watershed event in Country; in the format and our company’s ability to monetize and market the format.”
With a reach of between 85-90 million U.S. listeners, DICKEY called Country “One of the most explosive formats in our business and one of the largest addressable markets of any radio format in the country.”
In spite of the format’s appeal, DICKEY says it’s still the only one of its size that has not fragmented, citing Rock, AC, Urban and Talk as examples of other formats that have split, while characterizing the Rock format as “In a state of emergency” due to its many different format iterations over the years.
Country’s resistance to the urge, believes DICKEY, is due to it being “One of the last great multi-generational formats that is programmed as a Top 40 station.” As a current-driven format, “All those artists who helped propel the business of Country to where it is today, have by and large, lost their place in the relevancy as far as broadcast radio is concerned.”
DICKEY said it wasn’t a matter of ‘Will it fragment, but when it fragments,” adding, “That time has come.” Unlike previous attempts to segment the format, which DICKEY says were attitudinally based, “This is based on solid metrics; the depth of the artists, the attraction of the artists and the low burn of their music and the fact that they’re not present on the radio. When all these factors come together, you have the makings of a format that has legs and can stand side-by-side with mainstream Country and not cannibalize it, but grow the total share of Country.”
Saying the format is now at a crossroads, DICKEY defined the newly launched version using this analogy: "NASH ICON is to Country what Hot AC is to AC.”
He described the music mix on NASH ICON as 25% current-driven with a possibility of that increasing. The sound is “predominantly anchored in the '90s-2000s, with a little bit of the '80s.”
What you won’t hear on NASH ICON, says DICKEY is “affectionately termed, ‘Bro-Country.’ That kind of tailgate Rock doesn’t fit the Hot AC version, but there’s a lot of music that does,” noting KENNY CHESNEY’s new music and others that have the right feel and tonality to make sense.
DICKEY predicted in the next two years, more stations outside of Country who have thrown themselves into another competitive battle with poor results will opt for “A broad-based, coalition format … with more staying power and better fundamentals … competing against the mainstream Country or stations in the format, that carve out a huge audience and are positively differentiated in the marketplace and not considered a flanking alternative in terms of share and revenue.”
DICKEY added the he believed NASH ICON-formatted stations, “Should attract comparable cume to mainstream Country.”
While on the call, he also announced that the company’s radio network, WESTWOOD ONE will offer NASH ICON as a format to affiliates beginning immediately, with the format fully up and running by the 4th quarter. “If all the interest we’ve been receiving for NASH ICON is any indication, I think you’ll see a lot of stations converting over and taking this format by the end of the year,” DICKEY added.
When asked about the status of a previously mentioned, national morning show specifically for NASH ICON, DICKEY hinted at an announcement before the end of the year, saying the show would be more music-intensive than its NASH-FM counterpart and likely have an in-studio artist component. And while no other national dayparts are in the works, DICKEY said an announcement would be coming soon, regarding weekend content for NASH ICON.