Friday, October 16, 2009

KCHZ 95.7 The Vibe is going Top 40

Posted By on Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 4:26 PM

click to enlarge Now on 95.7 FM...
  • Now on 95.7 FM...

I listen to the radio when I drive around town, and I flip between Hot 103.3 Jamz and 95.7 The Vibe because they both play "urban" music (though The Vibe has always been more on the lighter side of things -- Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas -- than, say, KPRS's Lil Wayne and Drake).

But yesterday, The Vibe played a Rob Thomas song. And then, "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon. Obviously, something's up.

click to enlarge Now on 95.7 FM...
  • Now on 95.7 FM...
I called a radio insider who forwarded me a press release sent out today, October 16, announcing The Vibe's format change. "CUMULUS longtime Top 40/Rhythmic KCHZ (95.7 The Vibe)/KANSAS CITY has made a decidedly mainstream move with the music in the last few days with the introduction of songs by TAYLOR SWIFT, KINGS OF LEON, SHINEDOWN, DAUGHTRY, JASON MRAZ, NICKELBACK, DAVID COOK and many others to the playlist," it reads (obnoxious capitalization theirs).

This seems like good news for KPRS, now that no other station challenges its urban format. But why would The Vibe join an already-saturated Top 40 market? Kansas City already has KMXV's Mix 93.3 and 99.7 Kiss FM (which broadcasts Ryan Seacrest's show).

The insider thinks The Vibe's switch might have something to do with a change in the ratings system. Arbitron,

the company that calculates Kansas City's radio station ratings, is

switching from using listener-reported surveys (called "diarys") to a

system called PPM -- the Portable People  Meter




According to Arbitron's Web site, "The Portable People Meter is a

mobile-phone-sized device that consumers wear throughout the day that

works by detecting identification codes that can be embedded

in the audio portion of any transmission."

When a random sample of

people wear the PPM, the device picks up signals that tell Arbitron

what they're listening to on the radio, what they watching on TV, what

sites they visit on the Internet and what music is playing around them

in malls, restaurants and everywhere else.

If

you're like me, it sounds freaky and Big Brother-like, but my source is

optimistic. With PPM, the source says, radio stations will be able to

better adjust their programming to reflect what their listeners want to

hear. And, according to my insider, Top 40 stations have fared better

than urban stations, ratings-wise, in markets already using PPM, which

might be why The Vibe is making the switch.

The Vibe's press release includes this quote by SVP Jan Jeffries (sic all

around): "KCHZ has been gradually moving toward mainstream for several

months.Top 40 music is better than I remember it being in years. Our

listeners are reacting positively to the gradual adjustments. The

moniker is ALL THE HIT...95-7 THE VIBE."

Time will tell how

successful the format change is for The Vibe. Radio insiders expect Arbitron's PPM ratings for the Kansas City market to come out in December. Meanwhile, I'm breaking

up with The Vibe and looking for a replacement station for my pre-set

buttons.

When it comes to Nickelback, I have to draw a line.

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