“As a program director, when you go to any new radio station, they’re going to tell you, ‘Man, this market is different than any place you’ve ever worked,’ and in some respects that true, they’re all unique,” says Ken Boesen, Program Director of WKIS in Miami, Florida. Having previously worked at Country music stations from Portland, Oregon to Baltimore, Maryland, Boesen is no stranger to the format.
When he came to Miami, he found Country music to be more of a minority format than in other places he’d worked, though a 1 or 2 percent share in Miami is still several thousand people. And a good radio station, no matter how big the market, is always working to provide music its listeners want to hear.
“Hopefully the play list is always locally researched,” he says. That’s how WKIS found that listeners in the Miami area love Shania Twain, and the station’s play list reflects that even though she hasn’t released anything new in the last several years. WKIS also features local Florida artists, such as David Ray and Jesse Lee.
Despite the recent trend toward digital music, radio still plays a very important role in the life of the average music listener. “We still have nearly 100 percent market saturation of music fans,” says Boeson of radio. “Some people will say they find new music online—everybody finds a little something here and there—but the reality is, look at the number of people who have cars, and the number of those cars that have radios: all of them.”
Radio even has social aspects that digital music can’t provide. “Even if people listen to CDs or their iPod in the car,” he says, “if they want to feel connected and want to find out, ‘What’s going on where I live?’ or want to hear the latest from Kenny Chesney or David Ray, they’re going to find it on the radio.”
He sees big things happening for Country music radio soon: “Music and popularity of genres ebbs and flows. Summer is generally pretty good for us because Country is out pressing the flesh with all the fans all over the nation. I believe that country music, because of the product that Nashville is putting out, I believe we’re in a power cycle right now, and we’re coming on really strong in the near future.”
By Andrew Miller