Los Angeles no longer has a country station -- KZLA, which billed itself as "America's Most Listened-To Country Station," has dumped the format in favor of a dance-leaning top 40 sound. The new station has been dubbed "Movin 93.9."
But here's the biggest news: The format change comes as Movin 93.9 brings in Rick Dees to handle its morning show.
As you know, Dees has been without a radio home since he and KIIS-FM parted ways in March 2004. Since then, he's continued to host his "Weekly Top 40" countdown, as well as a Latin-flavored version of that show (heard locally on Latino 96.3).
The format change was sudden, and quite jarring to listeners. KZLA simply played the Keith Urban song "Tonight I Wanna Cry" at 10:18 a.m., followed by the Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started" at 10:25 a.m. Here's how the playlist looked, according to Yes.com:
Yeah, I'd say that's a pretty jarring transition.
KZLA's regular country music website is still up, but I assume that will be altered by the end of the day. The format change probably makes sense for KZLA owner Emmis Communications. Emmis also owns hip-hop Power 106 (which once was a dance station, so it knows the format) -- and selling Power 106 and Movin 93.9 as a package is probably more attractive to advertisers than trying to sell a hip-hop station and a country station in the same breath. But there still won't be overlap -- top 40 KZLA will attract older women (think 25-54), while Power hits the younger teen and 18-34 crowd, so the stations won't cannibalize each other.
The station's chief competiton will be Clear Channel's KBIG 104.3, which has evolved to become a more dance-leaning adult contemporary station. More to come!
UPDATE KZLA finally added a message to its website (which strangely, still lists its old airstaff and country music format), noting that the station plans to start streaming the country format online and on the station's HD2 signal:
Dear Faithful KZLA Listeners:
KZLA is working to make country music available to everyone as soon as possible. Coming soon KZLA will be streaming live on kzla.com and is currently available on HD Radio. We encourage you to join our "Country Club" fan base to get the latest updates on KZLA streaming, music, concerts and of course, COUNTRY BASH 2006 on Saturday October 14, 2006.
Tickets for the Bash go onsale Saturday, August 26, 2006 at 10am at all Ticketmaster locations and on ticketmaster.com. We encourage you to come out and show your country pride by attending this concert to show that southern California loves country!
Kind of an odd final sentence -- who are they trying to show that Southern California loves country? The Emmis execs who dumped the format?
Meanwhile, if you're curious about the "Movin" sound, here's the webpage from Alan Burns & Associates, which markets the format. It's too bland for me, but obviously I'm not the target listener:
Women love rhythmic music. And starting in the mid to late ‘80s, young radio listeners began to prefer rhythmic music over other styles.
Those listeners are adults now! Women who were between 12 and 24 in 1989, for example, are 28 to 40 years old today. They grew up on Top 40 hits that were primarily rhythmic.
The Movin™ target is that segment of 28-40 year-old women who feel too old for hip-hop, but are bored with rock-based Hot AC and not ready for traditional AC.
I love that blanket statement -- "Women love rhythmic music." Apparently Movin' thinks women also love the Black Eyed Peas, because the station appears to be playing a song by them virtually every hour.
On days when conditions are right, L.A. radio listeners can pick up KFRG ("K-Frog") from the Inland Empire. Otherwise, you'll either have to purchase a satellite radio or an HD radio tuner to still hear country radio in L.A. I'm doubtful another station will pick up the format any time soon here.