Charlie Cook On Air: The Spring Book

We are getting close to an important time of the year for the smaller market country radio stations in America. Twice a year hundreds of markets are measured by Arbitron to gauge their audience. The bigger markets are measured continuously and a number of markets are also measured in the Winter and Summer months but the smaller markets participate only twice a year.

The Spring Rating period starts March 29. This is just a couple of days before the Academy of Country Music Awards Show April 1 from the MGM Arena in Las Vegas. The timing is good for both the stations and the show.

That’s why I am talking about this two months before the event. Stations tend to try and raise their profile during the rating period and the ACM is going to get a ton of exposure as the rating book starts, on CBS-TV, in magazines, and on the Internet. This is all good for raising the awareness of Country Music and Country Radio.

If this is good for Country Radio it is also good for the Country record business. Shouldn’t there be something that we can all do together?

We know that the big stars are going to be doing new music on the show. I heard of a duet coming from what is going to be the biggest show of the year. We know that radio is going to be playing the big acts.

What if a label did a “national” contest taking the tune in from the TV show and moving the audience into radio station morning shows on Monday morning?  Watch the show, listen for the new song from, let’s pick Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, and when the station plays that song Monday morning between 7-8 AM, listeners can call for a chance to get registered for a trip to see The Brothers Under the Sun concert.

There can be a lot of unaffiliated stations involved in a promotion like this. Make it a Clear Channel-like contest with any number of stations willing to participate. This would get exposure across a number of stations for the TV show and for the performers. This would be good for the radio station and for the listeners.

Wait a minute: a win-win-win-win.

I keep saying that the format is again at a jumping off point. We have so many acts that have broken out of Country only. We have some of the best music on the radio today. Young acts like Jason (who will be on the Grammy Awards next weekend), Eric Church and ZBB bring vibrancy to Country Radio but do not get lulled into thinking there is no competition on the radio for your listeners.

Lady A, The Band Perry and Jason Aldean are all over AC/CHR but Adele, Colbie Caillat and Bruno Mars are very attractive alternatives to our audience.

Country Music and Country Radio should be thinking about ways to work more closely to wrestle these AC listeners away from their stations. I am not questioning the relationship between the two but let’s think more about building the entire format and not just individual songs or labels.

The Awards show, the beginning of the rating period for the smaller stations and beginning of the concert season all seem like a great time to swing for the fences. (I know, the baseball season starts that weekend too).


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