Looking at the Seattle market’s recent changes

If you’ve been following the industry since the beginning of the year, you know that the market has gone through a number of changes. It all started on January 19, when iHeart Media shuffled four stations. Then, it was Hubbard, who brought a mainstream rock format to the struggling 98.9 signal last month. So, let’s break this down by signal.

KPWK 93.3

One of the stations that flipped in the iHeart Media shuffle in January, this is the station I’m most worried about. Rather than trying to fix the issues with KBKS and KUBE, both of which were ruined when iHeart bought KBKS in April 2009, the decision was made to blow up both stations, flipping KUBE to CHR and moving and repositioning KUBE’s format. So, what has me so worried three months later? The ratings. In January, KUBE got a bump from a 2.3 to a 2.8, likely due to the new format appearing close to the end of the survey period. So, I expected the ratings to move even higher in the February book, and even higher in March, hopefully taken down KQMV a notch or two, but that hasn’t happened. KQMV had a 7.4 in the holiday book, and a 7.6 in the January book. I’d expect after a high like that they’d come down as this has happened before, and in February they went down to a 6.8, and in the just released March numbers they’re at a 6.9. In the same period, KPWK went 2.8, 3.1, 2.9, which while that’s higher than what KUBE was pulling, it’s not exactly burning up the ratings. If any station has the capacity to take on KQMV, which has become a powerhouse in the last couple years, it’s KPWK. It’s still early, so we’ll see how this plays out. Hopefully, it turns out to be the rivalry it sounds like it’s going to be, but if the ratings haven’t moved significantly by the end of the year, I’ll be a little worried that Seattle can’t support two CHR stations.

104.9

This is where KUBE moved, and I’m not sure what to make of it. The 104.9 signal is one of those that doesn’t and never will cover the entire market, and is even somewhat weak in Taccoma. The KUBE brand was just moved here to keep it around, but how long will it last? I’ll give it 3-5 years.

106.1

Can you say CHR with an identity crisis? This was supposed to have shifted to Hot AC, but it still sounds CHR with more gold thrown in. Also, why are you playing 80s music when there’s lots of it on sister Classic Hits 95.7 The Jet? If you’ve read my posts on Radio Discussions, you know I used to slam KBKS a lot because I felt all the personality the station had under CBS ownership had been taken out of the station. With the new Hot AC positioning, I’m not going to do that anymore, but I really don’t think they’re on the right track here. KYNW, which was the Hot AC at 102.9, sounded pretty decent for a Hot AC, even if I didn’t think it could beat KPLZ.

102.9

This was the Hot AC in the iHeart cluster, and it makes sense that it flipped to harder Alternative. This gives a harder-edge competitor to KNDD, which is trying to protect KISW. I hope that KFOO will be able to at least take both stations down a peg or two.

98.9

Is this station combined with the above mentioned 102.9 going to be enough to take down KISW? I’ve been saying for a couple years now that KISW and KZOK, both of which finish consistently top 10, need a full-market competitor. What was KKBW now KUBE might have had a shot if it were on a decent signal, but no. The new format has only been on the air for a month or so, and the ratings don’t look that great, but it’s still early.

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