Was I wrong about “Whatever Weekends”?

Several months ago I wrote a piece arguing that AC stations living in fear of a coming JACK can’t effectively head JACK off at the pass by copying bits and pieces of its format because JACK will out-JACK even the most thorough bits and pieces.

In spite of that viewpoint, many stations have launched so-called “Whatever Weekends” which, in some cases, have been helpful in boosting ratings.

So was I wrong?

Let’s look closer:

1. Any station that is doing better post-“Whatever” than it did pre-“Whatever” had too narrow a view of its own format and was under-satisfying its audience. JACK has essentially redefined what a “Variety” station can get away with – at least for those of us in Radio (our audience knew it all along).

2. Many – perhaps most – of the AC stations launching this programming have not yet had to face a JACK competitor. That means they’re operating without that all-important point of comparison. Everything looks good – until JACK strides along.

3. Not all JACK stations or clones are created equal. As is the case in any format, there are stars and dogs, good signals and bad. Some AC’s have been fortunate to face the dogs or the signal-impaired.

4. I know of at least one situation where a “Whatever Weekend” actually HURT a station’s ratings – so they pulled it off. Sometimes, experiments can fail, folks.

All in all, I continue to think my conclusion was right. You can’t out-JACK JACK. Perhaps you can pre-empt it, but only if the would-be JACK is a nervous nellie.

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