On Citadel pulling “Timeless”


Just last week, Citadel in an effort to cut massive expenses so they say…has decided to eliminate the Timeless format…the only one in their entire arsenal that targets the 45+ demographic.  They used the excuse that advertising agencies were not interested in the narrow demographic, but in truth, just like all broadcasters they are only interested in pursuing the same demo that everyone else is pursuing and forget about the fact that there are a lot of stations that are members of that satellite-delivered format that have built their entire business around that format…many small, medium and even some larger market stations will now be left with a very limited amount of sources to select from. 

There are a couple, however what if you do not like the limited menu now offered to reach that demo….What do you do.  A suggestion, why not investigate a private programming consultancy that specializes in the older demo or baby boomer formats.  There are several…I for one that have been formulating such formats over the last 5-10 years.  Adults in the 45+ age group are becoming the most numerous of demos, the most affluent and the most versatile that the segment has ever been.  I ask you, how much Taylor Swift, Britney Spears and The Black Eyed Peas can you take?  The people that still buy albums, books, electronics and more…are in the older demo…they have yet to make the transition to I tunes, the I-pods and music downloads….and yet they control most of the disposable income in this country. 

It is time the Radio industry took back control of marketing for their product, educate the agencies and buyers on the advantages of advertising to the growing age population and not the diminishing population of the 18-49’s…which no longer control the purse strings of the economy.  Look around, The high priced cars, homes, vacation homes, cruises, country club memberships, Prescription drugs, health and beauty aids …all are major purchases made by the 45+ target demo…yet we as broadcasters let some 25 year old media buyer tell us that our older demos don’t matter to them…when in reality it is just easier for them to follow tradition and buy what they have always bought.  There are solutions…If the agencies don’t buy you…go directly to the business itself…usually they will be about the same age as the people you are reaching with your older demo targeted format. 

With the Citadel demise of the Timeless format, what will the majority of those stations do?

Consider, another company featuring that type of music…or try this on for size…do it yourself, tailor make the format to suit you individual market…Hire a consultant that knows the music, knows the demo, knows how to market your station and knows how to focus in on the specifics of your market.  Chances are you will increase you listenership, increase your market share, and increase your bottom line.  After all, that is what the business is all about.  Every market will be the same…the Clear Channels, The Citadels, if they last, the Cumulus, the Radio Ones, Entercom and others will all be playing to the 18-49 and 25-54 age groups with the emphasis on the younger demos…which means the all of their stations will be filling the CHR, AC Urban, Urban Hip Hop., Today’s Hottest New Country, and some other thrown in for good measure. 

What the other owners…those who still need to compete in their markets with a unique alternative format need to realize is, is that there is still a lot of market numbers that are not being reached by those stations…Pick a format you can brand as your own…The legends of Country Music, EZ favorites of yesterday and today. Music that stands the test of time…You might even consider a hybrid of standards, EZ oldies, smooth jazz, some blues and great instrumentals.  No matter what you feel you can do…do it and brand it to your station…get a market and programming consultant that can help you decide on a format and direction for your station and then together devise a marketing program that will help brand and promote your station.  Get your programming staff and sales departments involved and get some local input from your listeners…and heavy community involvement. 

This is how these stations will continue to compete and grow in their markets… even if the Timeless format is no longer around…There are other ways of improving on and continuing this direction for your station. Remember, these hybrid and specialized formats are viable…but many have been pillaged by short sighted programming…short playlists, restricted creativity and a lack of new techniques. Why not use a creative mixture of music, Information and Localism to create a format unique to your very market.   I would be most interested in helping any station owner that would like to talk with me further about this. 

— Bill James, Bill James Programming consultant and owner of Info Media. (804) 363-5528.  Bill James has over 40 years background in both radio and television. www.billjamesprogramming.com