Praise for George: Gone, or HiDing?

All right, this blog hasn’t been around all that long, but it’s already outlasted a radio format here in the RoeDeo listening area: George 104, which came – and went – in just over two months. (76 days, to be exact – from January 22 to April 7, 2007) George, (as noted earlier in this space) was the hastily-assembled pop/rock/dance oldies format that was thrown up after owner Bonneville engineered a novel play with public broadcaster WETA: Bonneville dumped DC classical icon WGMS, WETA switched (back) to all-classical, and for good measure picked up WGMS’s Program Director (Jim Allison), its extensive record library, and even its call letters – (now used by WETA’s repeater station in Hagerstown, MD). Of course, George was a pretty low-overhead operation, (“a CD player in the back room” according to some grumblings), and pledged to go ad-free for its first 104 days in a bid to build audience. It didn’t even get that far.

So wha’happen? Turns out George isn’t completely gone – it’s now available as an HD – only channel, (103.5 – 2), next door to Bonneville’s perennial ratings champ WTOP with perhaps with lamest web site in the business. George was cleared out to make way for Praise 104.1– a new gospel format from Radio One, who are now “renting” the frequency from Bonneville. Believe it or not, it’s the first Gospel FM station in the DC area, which must be some kind of first. So perhaps that will bring a little stability to a frequency that has gone through FOUR format changes and call letters in a year’s time. Ahhh, radio…a nice stable industry.

Day One

Yet one more blogstar (okay, supporting cast?) to join the billions and billions twinkling away in the firmament. But an interesting dose of news to start the day: Bonneville, the major radio-chain owned by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, has announced a “station swap” with Entercom, another media giant, essentially trading their three San Francisco frequencies for EIGHT in Seattle and Cincinnati. Why it’s big news to me is that the “swop” (as longtime Yankees would call it) involves what has long been the “jewel in the crown” of commercial classical-music frequencies – KDFC. With no public-radio competition in classical music in the Bay Area, KDFC has been a long-time ratings champ, even hitting No. 1 *overall* in the market — unheard of for classical stations! And that’s doubtless one of the reasons, perhaps why Bonneville is getting 8 stations while losing only three.

It also could be telegraphing the next punch from Bonneville – that they will indeed dump the SECOND classical “cash cow” in the business — WGMS in Washington, DC — and get out of the classical broadcasting business. WGMS’ sale to Redskins owner Dan Snyder has been rumored and talked-about for six weeks now; but when word appeard in the press that Snyder was so desperate to buy a decent station for his Redskins he was willing to pay 50% above market value, the deal suddenly cooled. Look for it to heat up again – fast.

Here’s the press release about the story: