TIME for JACK

When your format is featured in TIME maybe it’s time to stop speculating as to whether or not it’s a format.

Then again, it’s not a format. It’s a phenomenon.

I always find it amusing when folks suggest that this format is a flash-in-the-pan.

Folks, things that are flashes-in-the-pan are so for fundamental reasons. The “faddishness” of the format is built into its DNA from day one.

For example, both 80’s and 70’s stations declined after initial bows not because the bloom was off the rose but because that initial spike was full of listeners who were well outside the target of the formats. Your format does not deserve and will not keep “gravy” listeners.

I recall working at 91X in the early 90’s when San Diego got a 70’s station and noting that 91X’s interns – teenagers and twenty-somethings all – were all over it. They loved the retro aspect, the disco, etc. Needless to say these folks were outside that station’s target. And when the station ceased to be “cool” it became “not for me” for that particular audience.

In the Jammin’ Oldies case, the format is built on a fundamentally unstable constituency of African Americans (with lots of listening hours and low cume) and Whites (with lots of cume and low listening hours). If market conditions are right (i.e., not quite enough African Americans to support an Urban AC and/or no full-signal Smooth Jazz), then this format can have a very long life-line. Otherwise….

JACK does not possess any of these problems. The people buzzing about it are the people in its targeting crosshairs, not teens and twenty-somethings. Further, there’s no awkward racial hybrid propping up the numbers. And no one can possibly tell me that listeners will get tired of tons of variety.

Further, the breadth of the format creates tremendous flexibility to move and sway as market and audience conditions demand. 80’s stations were wed to their era. Not so with JACK. Unless your Hot AC has a strong morning show JACK has the potential to take you out.

Still, JACK stations will peak early and decline by 10 – 20%. Expect it. EVERY strong success declines by 10 – 20% early on. That decline does not mean it fails. It means only that it succeeds so dramatically that even with a 10 – 20% decline it’s still a potential top-5 ranker 25-54.

And wouldn’t you rather have that than a station that starts nowhere and rises to 15th?

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