In Selling The Sound, Some Think Entercom Gave The New 88.5 FM a Gift. Unlikely.

Lots of action on the rock radio front in Los Angeles the past couple of weeks, with the debut of an expanded 88.5 and a format change in store for KSWD/The Sound. Some believe the latter helps the former. Probably not…

the sound logoBy Paul Marszalek

Los Angeles will soon lose a very good classic rocker as Entercom sells KSWD/The Sound to a religious broadcaster in order to meet conditions of its coming merger with CBS.

This stunner comes on the heels of the recent announcement that 88.5 KCSN will team with Saddleback College’s KSBR to create a super-Southern-California-simulcast.

The two events have led some to believe that Entercom just did The New 88.5 a huge favor. Seems plausible, but it’s actually quite unlikely.

The Sound, which originally debuted to great fanfare with a Triple A format, quickly retreated to a late 70s-based classic rocker targeting the 50+ crowd.  While 88.5 has not abandoned iconic artists who are still active musically, the Venn diagram pretty much ends there.

Here’s a snapshot of the top songs played on each station last week:

The New 88.5The Sound

Fans of Triple A will look at those lists and conclude that The Sound listeners will feel right at home at 88.5. That’s because Triple A fans are tolerant of a wide variety of music. Classic Rock fans generally are not.

It happens all the time – one station disappears and the remaining stations become vexed — expecting a ratings windfall that never arrives. The Sound’s 1.5 million listeners are gonna go somewhere, right?

Yes, but they’ll scatter – everywhere.

Problem 1 is 88.5’s penchant for unfamiliar 2017 music sted hit 1970s music.

Problem 2 is location. For whatever reason, finding stations at the left of the dial seems to be really hard for a lot of people, and marketing dollars are in short supply. Keep in mind: The Sound spent millions to get where they are. KCRW, for all the great things it has done for years, generally tops out at a 1.5 with 650,000 listeners. (Frankly, that’s pretty great.)

Problem 3 is math. The New 88.5 won’t benefit from The Sound’s demise because ratings are driven by P1s — superfans. Some Sound listeners may find 88.5, but they’re largely gonna be P3s or P4s – and those types of listeners just don’t generate enough time spent with the station to move the needle.

This is not to say that The New 88.5 won’t be a big success. Sky Daniels is a smart guy and knows how to work the press with content stunts and events. With billboards and TV out of reach, maybe, over time, he can spend 50-100 grand targeting and re-targeting music fans on social media.

88.5 will mimic the original version of The Sound — and there should be more than a 1-share out there for that. Problem is, they’re gonna have to earn it the old fashioned way, methodically clawing for every listener.

No windfalls thanks to Entercom.

Filed Under: Actual NewsFeaturedNewsRadio and Records


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