Why Alternative Music Radio Could Never Work In South Mississippi

Jackson, Tennessee — home to my folks, a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs and a radio station that recently changed its format from alternative to something much more mainstream.

Lovingly referred to as “that other Jackson” since we have a Jackson here in Mississippi, Jackson, Tennessee is smaller in market size than Hattiesburg/Laurel. That’s according to 100000watts.com.

Just last month, “The Vision” in Jackson was reborn as Z105.3. Here’s the reason as quoted from TheVision.fm, the station’s official website which should get a new domain in the future…

A lot of our vision listeners are asking “why?” This was not a decision made on a whim. It’s business. Radio is all about numbers. Certain formats attract a certain percentage of listeners. Advertisers buy ads based on that. It’s the only source of income for radio. As the vision, we initially drew more alternative listeners than any other station in Tennessee, substantially above the average. But over the past two years, as more stations began playing our type of music, the numbers fell to the national level and below. In the last ratings, we were ranked 8th in age 12+. It’s not just a problem here, WMFS in Memphis has slipped to 12th with a 1.9 rating. WBUZ in Nashville has fallen to 13th place. Alternative stations all over the nation are dealing with this issue and many are closing their doors. We decided not to shut down, and chose rather to fill the huge void in the market. The Top 40 market is documented to traditionally be the highest rated format in radio. Interestingly, the top 40 music chart is filled with a substantial number of alternative artists, nearly 40%. As a result, while we’re playing some new music, a lot of your alternative favorites will still be found here. So, as you can see, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. Thanks for a great run, and we look forward to an even longer and more successful run with Top 40.

Now, in fairness, my first old station, WUSM public radio, has had a very successful alternative program late at night. But, you see, there’s the key. WUSM’s not a commercial station and The Vision was.

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