Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What Happened, KROQ? Rival 98.7 Delivers A Smackdown

What happened, KROQ?

The "World Famous" alt rocker is getting hit by increased competition from 98.7 KYSR-FM, the station once known as "Star 98.7." In the January Arbitron ratings, 98.7 posted a cume of 2.2 million listeners -- compared to KROQ's 2.1 million.

KROQ wins in certain demos, and still dominates in the morning -- but the fact that one-time also-ran 98.7 is now beating KROQ among total listeners 6+ is still surprising and a concern for tge legendary station.

Ever since moving away from modern adult contemporary music, and more into a heavy mix of 1980s and 1990s alternative gold that KROQ has mostly dumped, 98.7 has become a more solid competitor.

98.7, which also plays new music, also began to see its fortunes rise after Indie 103.1 left the airwaves. (98.7 even picked up a few old Indie shows, including "Complete Control Radio.")

Ironically, Clear Channel -- which owns KYSR -- originally helped launch Indie 103.1 as a "KROQ killer." But once it had to divest its management of Indie (which it ran for owner Entravision), Clear Channel turned its attention to making over 98.7 into a stronger competitor.

Since then, 98.7 has added harder alt rock to its mix -- although still softer and more mainstream than CBS Radio-owned KROQ.

"It's the result of a very focused music strategy and plan to win the lion’s share of the alternative rock audience in Southern California," Greg Ashlock, Clear Channel/LA market president, told LARadio.com. "The secret sauce is authenticity. The 98-7 staff from top to bottom passionately believes in this station and treats work like a playground. There is no hype, just genuine interest in delivering good product to the alternative rock lovers."

Authenticity? No hype? Then what's with the most annoying -- and most corporate-sounding -- marketing campaign I've ever seen for a rock station? 98.7 still insists on calling its audience "Rock-a-holics" -- which sounds like a term a 1970s-era album rock station would use ("HEY, ROCK-A-HOLICS, HERE'S STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!"). No self-respecting, genuine alt rock station would go with the marketing and image campaign that 98.7 has (including that font -- are they trying to be tongue-in-cheek? If so, I can't tell -- or maybe I just can't fathom Clear Channel having a sense of humor). But I guess it's working.

KROQ isn't sitting down. The station just brought Ted Stryker back to KROQ (from sister top 40 KAMP) to host afternoon drivetime. The station has weathered several competitors through the years, but this may be its toughest challenge yet.

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