Cumulus takes ratings gamble with new Andrew Z showWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Following his legal troubles and many reportedly failed negotiations with various media outlets, Andrew Zepeda aka Andrew Z inked a deal with Cumulus Broadcasting. After a six month sit out due to a noncompete clause with his previous employer, Clear Channel, Andrew Z returned to morning radio July 18 on the 100 Watt HD station 100.7 The Vibe.
With technology changing media and how consumers get our favorite shows, Andrew Z had some pretty creative options and this signing was completely unnecessary.
When the Andrew Z “mess” happened, he was King of the Toledo Morning Airwaves, hosted a No. 1 Show, was Lucas County’s Weight Czar and was a media darling. Through all the negative press, Andrew Z has maintained the maximum limit of 5,000 friends on Facebook and a “fan” page with more than 2,000 “likes.” These numbers prove the power of his show. In a town where radio ratings are not made public, Andrew Z can demonstrate to clients a 7,000-member loyal, dedicated fan base he is reaching on a daily basis. Showing advertisers the amount of people your show and their commercials reach is key— it’s how the game is played.
To some, 7,000 people is not a lot, especially when Andrew’s previous audience was around 25,000 to 40,000 people. I would disagree; 7,000 people who own a computer — and more importantly, disposable income — is a great marketable number. The more powerful aspect is that his fan base will grow as his show improves and word gets out.
The problem with Top 40 radio today is the listeners who must be targeted to get ratings. Top 40 stations play around 40 songs, which means they play same song every 60-90 minutes. That’s why it seems your one favorite song is always on. What does this mean? It simply means Top 40 stations target people who are less likely to have extra money to buy music, an iPod, a smartphone or a newer car with satellite radio. Why would anyone wait through songs they do not like — and commercials — when they can play their favorite music off their iPod? Smartphones have apps like Pandora, where you can play the music you want commercial free.
The equalizer that brings people with extra cash back to terrestrial radio tends to be the personalities, aka DJs. Most cities, including Toledo, have stations that play the same artist. The perfect example would be Taylor Swift; she can be heard on KISS FM, Star105, K100, MY983 and The River 101.5. The one thing that separates the Taylor Swift stations are the morning shows. Andrew Z’s show played no music and was No. 1, meaning people with and without cash listened.
This is where Andrew’s return is flawed. Andrew Z should have invested in himself and his show by launching a comprehensive, interactive website and a smartphone application to distribute his show. This would take a lot of faith but little cash. He would have owned his show, been his own boss and more importantly, had full creative control. Andrew Z would argue that he has a website and an app you can hear his show on, but it is not the same thing; Andrew Z now has a boss.
Andrew has the ability to show advertisers the true size and loyalty of his listeners. Andrew Z has tarnished his name, but Toledoans always love the underdog and the controversial. Remember, Toledoans voted Carty Finkbeiner as mayor three times.
Ultimately, Andrew Z felt he needed to broadcast his show on a station with a frequency to be successful. If Andrew Z’s new show makes a dent in the ratings, it will be a huge upset win for Cumulus. 100.7 The Vibe was not even on the map two weeks ago and the journey ahead will not be easy — I challenge you to find the station by using a radio with a dial.
The adage of “If you build it, they will come; should apply here, but you still have to find what was built first. Andrew Z should have believed in himself and not leaned on a corporate partner.
Jeremy Baumhower is a media expert who writes and produces for morning radio shows across the country. Follow him on Twitter @jeremytheproduc.