Saturday, August 02, 2008

Same Story, Different City, Shorter Timeline...

If you'll indulge me, this is gonna be another one of those regional radio rants...
It would seem that Cumulus Media is doing to 99.5 the Wolf in Dallas more or less the same thing that Westinghouse/CBS/Infinity did to KIKK 95.7 in Houston, albeit on what looks to be a shorter timeline...

KPLX/Dallas morning co-hosts Tara and Justin Frazell exited the station today. APD Smokey Rivers, News Dir. Chris Sommers and co-host Missy remain on the morning show. Cumulus Sr. VP/Programming and KPLX PD Jan Jeffries says there are no immediate plans to fill the positions. "We have a building full of very talented people who are stepping up," he says.
Combine that with the revamping of the Wolf's playlist that was announced some months back, and yes, it looks like the same thing's going on in Dallas at KPLX that went on at KIKK in Houston in the late 1990s on up to November 2002...changing the music, firing the on-air personalities, in short, what Cumulus is doing is destroying the brand, and apparently turning what was once a unique and quite successful station into a carbon copy of pretty much every other major-market country station in the land. I wonder if it'll end up playing "smooth jazz" like what eventually ended up on 95.7. Should be interesting to see, interesting like a car wreck, that is. It's a shame, but it was damn good while it lasted. I remember listening to 99.5 a couple of years after they completely revamped it into The Wolf and thinking, "Wow, they've really got a good thing going on here" with their mixing so much Texas and classic country into the playlist. I must admit, though, I did think there was something that was, shall we say, not quite right with hearing "Coming up, Texas country from Faith Hill!" Maybe there are inherent flaws to varying extents with every kind of radio branding campaigns, but overall what they had going on with 99.5 The Wolf was something with actual substance behind it. At least they played actual Texas artists with Faith Hill and all the other Nashville stars instead of just calling the same old playlist "Texas Country." Of course, as one writer states, this sort of thing might not have been able to work anywhere else:
Geography gave it the opportunity to position as "Texas Country" and that gave it the ability to play anything from Waylon & Willie to George Strait to the local heroes that hadn't yet achieved national stardom (Pat Green, Jack Ingram) or never would (Charlie Robison, Robert Earl Keen). The Wolf was always a yesterday-and-today station (at the outset, its library went back to at least the late '60s), but Philips' emphasis on active records (and willingness to sit out some more passive national hits) made the station feel a lot more Top 40.

Still, though, the fact is that it worked in Dallas for, from what I understand, the better part of a decade. And while there are certain things that might well have needed to be changed, I just don't see why those things would have to be the two things that made the station into the great thing it was -- the music and the voices. I can't help but agree with one of the comments someone made at
The Wolf was once a great station, but Cume-less has destroyed it. Just look at the talent they had when they were really, really strong, and look at what they have now. Nothing against the current talent, but I don't think it compares to Amy B, Cody Alan, Dingo, Jeremy, Tara, and Justin. We are witnessing the end of an era of what was once a dynasty.

Like Justin says, I guarantee you we will "see him down the road", and hopefully it will be as he helps another station push the Wolf into extinction.

A-yep. I guess it was all bound to happen sooner or later, but still, it's incredibly sad to see.