Thursday, August 17, 2006

Buck up Cowboys and Girls

I thought something was amiss this morning on my commute, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I figured it out on the way home, and googled it tonight.

KZLA 93.9 FM is dumping its country music format

The Southland on Thursday lost its only country radio station, long-running KZLA-FM (93.9), which introduced a new pop format known as Movin 93.9, where veteran radio personality Rick Dees is poised to return to the local airwaves as the station's morning host.

A date has not been set for Dees' debut at the new station, which will replace the twangy hits of Toby Keith, Shania Twain and Tim McGraw with dance-ready music of Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Gnarls Barkley and other R&B-minded performers. Dees left his longtime stint as morning-drive host on KIIS-FM (102.7) in 2004 and was replaced by Ryan Seacrest, who continues in that post.

Movin 93.9 is owned by Indiana-based Emmis Communications, whose holdings also include KPWR-FM (105.9), a.k.a. Power 106.

KZLA had long been one of the nation's top country stations, and billed itself as "America's most listened-to country station." But its ratings had steadily slipped in recent years, dipping from a 2.9% audience share five years ago, which placed it at No. 11 in the L.A.-Orange County ratings, to a 1.7% share in the most recent survey, tying it with KLSX-FM (97.1) at No. 20.

"It's definitely going to leave a big hole in the national country music radio landscape," said Wade Jessen, director of Nashville-based charts for Billboard magazine and country editor for Radio & Records, which Billboard recently acquired. "L.A. is such an important market. The business leaders here in Nashville are not going to see that as any sort of good news, and for good reason."


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