If I were Bonneville…


Congratulations to Bonneville and President-CEO Bruce Reese on the company’s acquisition of KRVB-FM and return to Los Angeles. RBR/TVBR has asked me to dust off my crystal ball to make a prediction or two about what format might soon appear on 100.3FM.

Disclosures: a) I admire Bruce, Bob Johnson, Drew Horowitz, and Greg Solk a great deal and I have had the pleasure of working with Bonneville in many, if not all, of their markets over the years. You can count on them making a thoughtful and informed decision about V-100. b) I have no insider knowledge of what that decision might be so I am winging it here on my own.

First question I would ask: Who is under the signal umbrella? And, don’t just rely on contour maps and engineer-speak. I would get in my Hertz convertible with a really cool pair of Ray Ban Aviators and drive the market, take a portable radio into buildings, and develop a PhD understanding of who can hear 100.3, hear it well, and where.

But – and this is a VERY big But – the I-10, 405, 101, 5 and the rest carry nearly 2 million people a day, but only the all- or mostly-news stations have ever capitalized on the commuters (remember LA’s "Car Radio"? I didn’t think so).

Which brings me to Option One: News-Traffic-Weather-Traffic-Traffic-News on FM, a’la Bonneville’s #1 WTOP-FM in D.C. And, ONLY if their market research confirms the V-100 signal will blanket the major traffic arteries.

Personally, I would not see them programming Urban or Mexican/Spanish/Latin.

Those fields are crowded with 15-20 stations in a full position, niche, or niche of a niche. "Jack" is there and so is Smooth Jazz.

Second, Third, Fourth: What formats are missing in Los Angeles these days? Which have potential 25-54? How many would fall in the company’s comfort zone? Rubbing more Windex on the crystal ball; don’t be surprised if the choice is…

Classical? (in 2006, Bonneville had the two highest-rated commercial Classical stations in America … it is a strength for them)

Something new? (Greg and the company PDs are bright folks who aren’t afraid to boldly go where no man has gone before. Maybe there is a different AC wedge to Drive thru the market)

Rock? (KLOS can’t break out of the very low 2-share range and K-Earth isn’t really Classic Hits, they’re Oldies for Gen. X’ers. What would the Rock potential be in a population of 10 million listeners?)

Country? (the format has always been a tough putt in Los Angeles but perhaps Bonneville can mix the right recipe for the LA version of America’s #1 format. Let’s not forget, Country is #1 in San Diego and always does well in Riverside, both just an hour away)

Welcome back to Los Angeles where Radio people celebrate a 1.5 share ("…yeah, but we were off the charts with Weekend Hispanic Women, 35-64, in the East Valley…")

Oh – one last thing: Pick a format that will be PPM-friendly.

I can’t wait to see what your readers come up with,

Bob Harper