Radio Wars in Boston



It seems as though every week, people in the Boston market are being introduced to an entirely new radio station. From press releases, billboards on The Expressway, and the newly trending “radio stunting” we have been forced to keep up with station format changes on a regular basis.


If you are no stranger to the Boston market, you know that talk radio was once a huge competitor in the radio industry. Let’s face it, Bostonians love to talk! We go on and on about our politics, our weather and traffic (so much so that one powerhouse news/ talk station updates us every ten minutes on the two), and of course we talk about our beloved sports teams. So then why are stations like WTKK 96.9 disappearing? The well-known broadcast, which was once home to long time talk show hosts Margery Eagan and Michael Graham, has been renamed to Power 96.9 and is promised to bring “a fun, new sound to the Boston community, full of “hip-hop and R&B” according to Greater Media.  After reporting dismal ratings after the Presidential election a few months back, WTKK is far from the first station in Boston to adopt this type of format in recent months. In late June of 2012, WODS 103.3, known for playing classic hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s did a complete 180 when it transitioned to a top 40 adult contemporary music channel.  And of course, we cannot forget about the new WHBA Evolution (formally WFNX) which went from Boston’s home for alternative rock to now playing “electronic dance music”.  These format changes have prompted intense radio wars. The unveiling of the new Power 96.9 led an unknown employee at AMP 103.3 to claim the Twitter handle @Power969 only to promote 103.3’s seemingly better playlist. This was hardly an original move seeing as when AMP 103.3 was announced, someone over at the always dominant KISS 108 bought the domain name which inevitably began routing visitors to KISS 108’s website. And today, that same domain name is now taking people to Power 96.9’s website!


From a twenty something’s point of view, these stations are great for driving around with the windows down belting out my favorite tunes while I secretly pretend I am center stage at The Garden performing for my many many fans. But as someone who is in the advertising field and who hopes to develop a career in media buying and advertising consulting, these broadcasts pose quite a dilemma. Advertising on the radio has proven to drive traffic into stores and create a sense of urgency and direct response that advertisers love! According to Arbitron, Boston is the tenth largest radio market in the country, with an audience of just over four million. However, it is becoming more and more challenging to target the right demographic audience when the stations continue to change to such a similar format.


Boston has never failed to keep us on our toes, and as a young professional in the advertising industry, I am anxious to see how these stations compete against one another. The fact is, all of the adult contemporary music channels, both old and new, need to publicly identify what, if anything, makes them different and superior to their competitors. If they fail to do so, they risk losing not only listeners, but the incredibly necessary advertising dollars as well.


Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: