A week or so ago, I noted speculation that CBS Minnesota radio market manager Mick Anselmo planned to switch WLTE’s format. Now, it’s happened: 102.9 FM will become “New Buz’n Country,” aimed squarely at regular ratings champ K102, owned by rival Clear Channel.
It’s always been a mystery why someone hasn’t taken a piece out of K102’s hide, since the station is often the local ratings champ; it’s on a seven-month winning streak among all listeners, and seven of eight among advertiser-coveted 25-to-54-year-olds. Anselmo, who ran the local Clear Channel shop for years, is now tackling the behemoth he built.
(Although country’s audience was historically considered downmarket, you need only look at the pricey Target Field sellout for Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw to question that stereotype.)
The battle might not mean much to news junkies or music hipsters. However, in the past few months, Clear Channel has benefitted from converting KFAN to FM, a welcome development for a debt-dogged conglomerate in a tough ad climate; they might give some of those gains back should Anselmo’s reformatting work.
Meanwhile, LiteFM‘s share of the local listening audience has drifted from nearly 5 percent to around 3 percent in the past year. It’s considered a mainstream adult/contemporary station, and its departure should help other music competitors, at least until the next station reformats.
(Gotta believe Anselmo’s enjoying his upstart country station’s monicker including the same “102” as the long-time market leader.)
Here’s the release:
Minneapolis/St. Paul – December 19, 2011 – CBS RADIO Minneapolis announced this morning that 102.9 WLTE will become BUZ’N@102.9 on Monday, December 26, 2011at 8:00 AM and play the latest in country music. The station, which will be heard on-air, online at www.buzn1029.com and through the Radio.com app on mobile devices will feature popular country music and artists including the newest releases and hits from Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Band Perry, and Lady Antebellum.
In addition, the station will offer wall to wall country news and information online and through social networks, as well as coverage of all major country music events and happenings, and local concerts from the biggest names in the country community.
“BUZ’N will offer Minneapolis area residents the best in new country music, culture, and community both on-air and through online outlets. Launching a brand in the digital age offers us a whole new array of multi-platform communication and connection with our audience,” said Mick Anselmo, CBS RADIO Minneapolis Senior Vice President/Market Manager. “Country music is continuing to rise in popularity and its core artists have become recognizable to a broad audience of music fans. This immense interest in the format from a variety of different listening audiences and backgrounds makes it the perfect time to introduce Twins Cities listeners to this fresh new station and voice that is sure to keep them BUZ’N.”
Said Jeff Kapugi, Vice President, Country Programming, CBS RADIO of the new station, “CBS RADIO is a leader and visionary in the country music space and home to some of the top rated country stations in the nation. Country music is rapidly becoming a national pastime and now Minneapolis residents will have a great choice for the latest country music in BUZ’N. We cannot wait to hire and bring top-notch radio talent to the Twin Cities and connect with the community at local shows and events.”
In a related announcement, Lite FM listeners can still hear their favorite AC songs at KZJK HD-2 @ 104.1 FM through HD Radio receivers in the Minneapolis area.