Soothsayer Rich Russo on the WCBS-FM switchback


Chalk up WCBS-FM NY (see related story) as yet another successful radio prediction up for Rich Russo, JL Media's SVP/Director of Broadcast Services. Here are his comments from March on the hiring of Dan Mason to run CBS Radio (3/28/07 RBR #61):

"This will be a cakewalk for him, he's a programming guy, a big chunk of their difficulties have been programming issues and personnel, in one wave of his hand, he'll probably turn one of the NY FMs to Rock, one of the other NY FMs to Oldies and in 30 seconds he can reverse the fortunes and perception of his company. He'll clear up some of the other markets and do similar things as needed. As we have said all along, it's always about programming and content, so at least now there is someone who is an expert in that. Hopefully he will bring in a top level sales manager to get it all on track. This will be a no-brainer for Dan Mason, it will be as easy as hitting a pinata without a blindfold."

Indeed, that is just what's been happening. Russo also had a few criticisms on the Jack format that seem to now be materializing. He labeled it "Jack Sh*t" and we ran it before there were any ratings info on the stations.
He commented to RBR yesterday about the big WCBS switch: "The irony of all this is that the original CBS-FM was the original JACK format or at least so in theory, think about it, CBS-FM would play any genre of music as long as it was a hit at some point, they would play Dion, Donna Summer, Eddie Rabbit and Frank Sinatra in the same pod. There was no overanalyzation of the songs, if it charted, it got played.

The problem with the Jack formats that have failed are due to overprogramming and overthought, it had no spontaneity, no WOW factor, just a thinly veiled classic hits station with no heritage and no sense of the spirit of it. The ones that have worked and the hybrids have captured that spirit within its markets. New York never was able to get out of the shadow of CBS-FM because the listeners knew they had the original and trusted the DJ's etc, JACK threw that trust out the window. There is no reason that the re-emergence of CBS-FM now can't be a top 10 station in NYC and add at least 50% more revenue to what JACK was doing. Barring any programming missteps, this will be a home run."

…and that's coming from the buying community-CBS-FM shouldn't be a tough sell in the Big Apple…!