Imagine a world where an alternative rock format station can suddenly and without notice flip to a Top 40 station and directly and aggressively market itself in direct competition with the ‘other’ Top 40 station in its market.
Well, that’s exactly what happened at 5pm last Wednesday in New York City. Howard Stern’s old home K-ROCK flipped to 92.3Now FM, even announcing during its launch sequence that its sole aim is to steal the number one spot from Z100.
Nobody battered an eye lid. Well, maybe Z100 did, and now they are quite rightly going to “up their game” to make sure they continue to be “the best radio station in the world”.* Travel east about 3,500 miles and enter a whole different world as far as regulated radio goes.
Changing formats in a market such as New York where there are over 50 stations, is a little different to, say, Bristol. And Cambridge. And Norwich. This is why we have strict Formats to stick to. Even not playing enough chart music on a chart music station is enough to start world war three, as Global Radio found out on Friday.
First the news came that Ofcom had issued a Yellow Card to Global’s GWR FM for not playing enough chart music (as per their Format, naturally). Then followed information that future Yellow Cards won't be a slap on the wrist: "the Yellow Card has not been effective in immediately bringing a station back within Format". Ofcom has had it with the light touch approach and will shorten your licence in future.**
Then if that wasn't enough, Global hit back saying they weren't happy about it: “We do not accept this finding, and are considering our position”. Wow, this could turn into a very interesting and long running debate between the UK's biggest radio group and the regulator. It could scupper Global’s plans to continue syndicating a radio station with “melodic adult contemporary” in its Format to radio stations with “Contemporary and chart music” in it.
We must admit, we were wondering how they were getting around that one.
Turns out they weren’t.
Watch this space for the next thrilling episode, folks.
**If you are really, really bad.