Hearne: Triple A Station ‘The Bridge’ Still Floundering

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 10.38.04 PMIt may not look like it, but I’m seriously rooting for The Bridge...

The adult, album, alternative radio station whose call letters are KTBG 90.9 FM improved its signal and moved here late last year after operating for years out of nearby Warrenburg, Mo. That after being acquired for beaucoup bucks by KCPT Channel 19.

On top of all that, it received a potential ratings gift of sorts when local Triple A station Alice 102.1 FM flipped to an adult contemporary format in February.

However The Bridge’s early ratings returns were unkind…really unkind.

And yet after three months there was still no measurable sign of KTBG in the March ratings book among listeners 12 and older. Raising the question of how the station fared with adults in its key demos.

Bob Garrett

Bob Garrett

Word on the street is radio/concert marketing guru Bob Garrett has been telling promoters to expect a ratings surge for The Bridge when the April numbers are released.

So exactly how did KTBG do in March?

In adults ages 25-54 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. the station registered a meager .1 share for a 35th place finish. And in adults 18 to 49, that number grew to a .2 share, good for a 31st place finish.

That said, area concert promoters are hopeful and have granted The Bridge a number of “presents” for shows like The Avett Brothers at Sandstone – and shows that don’t necessarily require large outlays of advertising cash on established stations like The Buzz.

We’ll see how the station fares in April come late next month.

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23 Responses to Hearne: Triple A Station ‘The Bridge’ Still Floundering

  1. Harry Balczak says:

    Maybe if they advertised even a little bit. I know most people I talk to have never even heard of it.

    • mike t. says:

      agreed. wouldn’t hurt to do some outdoor around town or – GASP! – some tie-in with KCPT on select shows that appeal to that demo.

      I’d also mention this… that every time I tune in, it seems the song that’s on just doesn’t trip my trigger and I like AAA format. maybe jon hart needs to branch out a bit more?

    • admin says:

      Interesting point, Harry…

      While it may seem a bit tacky to put up billboards letting people know the station exists, taking down a healthy six-figure paycheck at a not-for-profit organization could be viewed as tacky as well.

  2. radio dude says:

    Ain’t gonna happen. The station will never break the top 20.
    Nobody knows it even exists. KCPT should be running promos…but then again people who watch the tv station are not the demo for a AAA station.
    There couldbe further trouble ahead as discussions are going on to cut goverment subsidies to public broadcasters.
    However, ratings may surge by 500%…giving the station a whopping .5 share.

    • mike t. says:

      radio dude… some programs on KCPT dip into the upper end of that demo, but, granted, not too many. that’s the problem KCPT has faced for years. my wife ran membership there for several years; you have your viewers that skew older, but your contributors skew older still.

    • kansas karl says:

      Everyone has said for years that non-comms could not be a ratings contender, however as reported here KCUR is 12th 6+, it takes time and a long term commitment to garner that large an audience. The foresight of Patricia Cahill set KCUR on a path to financial independence, and the federal subsidy is a minor factor to stations generating 5 mil a year like KCPT.

      Hearne you keep putting the salary of Kliff as a factor causing you concern, you are pulling numbers from KCPT not KTBG, while he is the overall ceo of the organization, KTBG is not trying to cover his nut.

      For decades KCPT foundered unsure of it’s direction, wandering from GM to GM run more by the “system” than by a leader. Now KCPT is on a path to move the demo down by a decade, actually reaching those under 60…….it has always bewildered me that with such a strong franchise in the morning and afternoon with kid’s programming that they lost the parents of those children, either by intent, chasing the dollar, or ignorance just being unable and unwilling to fill in the middle, the money demos with appealing content.

      Time is what will make KTBG stronger, the parts are in place, better signal, new studios, a vibrant local music scene, only time will tell.

      • radio dude says:

        Comparing the success of KCUR which has the power of NPR to the opportunity of KTBG being successful is lunacy.
        Kansas City will not accept or embrace a AAA. The market isnt hip enough. This is a Country and Rock market..look at the ratings. If Alice doesn’t make top 20. .no way KTBG will.
        This doesn’t mean it cannot exist and please the tastes of the
        vocal minority.

      • admin says:

        Victor Hogstrom was the one who set KCPT on its current financial course by opening up the “brought to you by” ads and letting companies plug stuff.

        Unfortunately he may have gone a plug too far

  3. jimmy says:

    How would you judge a station such as 90.9 as a “ratings success” or not? Does breaking into the top 25 count as successful for it’s size and format?

    As a side note, I really want to like this station but they make it really hard sometimes. A lot of the time the songs don’t really “flow” well together. They’ll play a killer Tom Waits track and then follow it up with Coldplay.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Jimmy, I’m with you there. I’m 100% behind this station making it, no matter how you judge their relative success. But for a station who originally touted the biggest library in the history of ever, if I hear Cold Play or Ray LaMontagne one more time I’m going to choke someone.
      I’ll be in studio Monday at 10:45 for a live concert, Im going to try to share some thoughts with them then.
      If there’s any success there, as a follow up I’ll attempt to get Hearne to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

    • PV_Pathfinder says:

      You lost me at “Coldplay”.

    • mike t. says:

      that’s kinda what I was referring to, so totally agree with you and paul.

      • PB says:

        Yep, I’m with you guys. While I’ve put The Bridge into my regular rotation, I usually don’t listen for very long stretches. Chvrches just doesn’t do it for me.

      • admin says:

        Personally, I’d far rather hear Coldplay…

        And The Bridge knows that if it wants to attract some halfway younger listeners, Coldplay is but a single step in that direction. Continuing on with Imagine Dragon, The Jezabels, etc

        • jimmy says:

          That’s what is a bit odd to me as it seems like 90.9 is trying to be two things at once. A niche local radio station that caters to music snobs and also a mainstream alt-rock station. It’s like they want to strike a perfect balance between 96.5 and 90.1 playlists which means I end up hearing Tom Waits (an awesome and rare occasion) and then Coldplay (which I can hear on five other radio stations). It just doesn’t seem like you are going to bring in a bigger ratings with that sort of strategy. Though I will admit to possibly being way off base as I don’t have market research to back any of this up whereas 90.9 might actually have the research to make them believe this is a solid strategy.

          By the way, nothing against Coldplay. They are not my favorite but to each their own.

          • PB says:

            “It’s like they want to strike a perfect balance between 96.5 and 90.1 playlists” – Jimmy

            Somewhere out there, there’s a 38.5 year-old, well-educated, single white guy who drives a Subaru, that fits their perfect demographic.

  4. KC Radio Dude says:

    I wish the station would just decide to do some “imaging,” or “branding,” or whatever you wanna call it. Their music can be good, but the DJ breaks are abrupt and shotgunnish when they do happen…and usually it’s just song -> concert ad -> song -> song -> concert ad. No personality at all. Nobody talks about the music they play. There are no live interviews, no special NPR programs that KCUR doesn’t want to air…nothing. It’s like a zombie station, playing somebody’s iPod but lacking the personality to pull it off. The concert ads are all the same, and they drive me nuts:
    “Thursday, April 25 at the Uptown…the Flying Spider Monkeys.”
    (:03 of the FSM’s latest hit)
    “The Flying Spider Monkeys.”
    (:03 of the second-most-recent FSM hit)
    “Tickets on sale at the Uptown Box office or online.”
    (:03 of another FSM track we’ve never heard of)
    “The Flying Spider Monkeys.”
    (:03 of something they dug out from the bonus tracks)
    “The Flying Spider Monkeys. Thursday, April 25th in support of The Bridge.”
    (dump all music during the word “Bridge”).

    Next song. Unannounced.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    C’mon, guys. Hire some hipsters who can talk about music…and let them have a little leeway on the air!

    • mike t. says:

      kc radio dude… you’re almost describing the short-lived, but for me much-loved, The Planet. but I do agree with you on their format. I think that’s a carry-over yet to change as a “public” radio station. just because you’re on the left-end of the dial doesn’t mean you can’t have some lively personality. not to bring up KKFI as a great example (because many of their programmers can’t put a single sentence together without fumbling), but at least many of them are on the “character” side. junebug leaps to mind as a good example and he can actually talk too!

      • radio dude says:

        For all of…or should i say the very few of you who are commenting on The Bridge, you are not going to hear personalities that can put two sentences together. Tbat would cost money they don’t have.
        Every station that has tried alternative on a commercial station have failed. Lets take a look
        The Planet
        The Zone
        Channel Z
        Have all tried in some fashion…and none lasted more than 2 years.
        The good news for you few who would support the station, the bridge may well survive, as long as Momma, KCPT doesn’t have lofty goals for the station.
        Jon Hart is a very nice man…..but never made it in commercial radio. He is right where he needs to be.

  5. jack p. says:

    Hey PB….I like your last paragraph: “….Somewhere there’s a 38.5 year old well-educated single white guy who drives a Subaru that fits their perfect demographic.”

    I think I saw him—or them—eating and arguing in one of those stupid Sonic commercials 🙂

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