According to the Julian calendar the year starts January 1. According to the Country Music calendar the year should start February 1.
January is a slow month for the format. We’re coming off the holidays. Some stations are recouping from Adult Contemporary competitors racking up astronomical ratings. In Nashville, WJXA, playing all Christmas Music around the holiday, set a national record for markets surveyed using Arbitron’s personal people meter measuring system. They scored a 17.8 share. Often this listening comes right out of the Country station. Or stations, as is the case in Nashville.
Nashville was not the only market to see a Christmas Music explosion. Ask Kerry Wolfe, in Milwaukee, how he feels about WRIT playing Christmas Music. Or Lance Tidwell, how’s that WRCH ratings report tasting in Hartford, buddy? Add to this list Austin, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Baltimore who took some hits because of Christmas music in the market. Now many Country stations see big numbers like the AC stations enjoy during the Christmas season but those are measured under the antiquated and unreliable diary system.
February is the month that voting begins in earnest for the Academy of Country Music awards. Yeah we have voted in January but it gets serious from this point on. The Super Bowl is Sunday, Feb. 3. It is being referred to as the Har Bowl because brothers Jim and John Harbaugh are opposing coaches. I am going with Baltimore. Why? The fine folks of Baltimore support a very good country radio station in WPOC. San Francisco? Not so much. Do you want more of a country music connection to the Super Bowl? Tim McGraw is involved with the radio coverage with his song “Truck, Yeah.”
The fourth quarter is of course the biggest time for CD releases as artists try to get in the holiday buying season but this February the format is getting ready for the first McGraw CD from a new label in many, many years. McGraw has been one of the most significant artists in the format for 20 years so a new project is always going to be a big deal but even more so with a new label. The Country Radio Seminar is in late February. It starts with the Radio/Disc Jockey Hall of Fame induction Feb. 26. This is one of the nicest nights of the year for radio and record folks. Touring gets back into full swing after the holidays. (I noticed that my favorite concert from 2012, Eric Church, is in Canada in February. My old friend Ron Sakamoto must have intense persuasive powers to get acts to tour Canada in February.) The Grammys are in February every year. Country acts get some attention on this mainstream show. This year Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood are going perform. And Hunter Hayes is up for Best New Artist. He is also up for Best Solo Performance in probably the most competitive category.
Here’s some more good news. February 2013 has only 20 work days. January had 23 work days. March has 22. That is worth some consideration. I think that you will agree that country music and country radio would be better served by making February the first month of the year. Nothing good happens in January. For those of you who celebrate a birthday in January, this may be tough to read but for the greater good you should be willing to move your birthday to another month. August is a good month.
All that said, January did have a seismic shift this year as Cumulus brought country radio back to New York City. It won’t be until February though when we see some results in listening.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MusicRow.)
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About the AuthorCook is currently on the board of both the ACM and the CMA and serves as Director of Programming and Brand Management for West Virginia Radio Corp, based in Morgantown, WV. He is also President of McVay/Cook and Associates, a Cleveland-based media consulting company. He has served on the CRB Board for over 20 years.
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