Men are increasingly dissatisfied with today's country music and are listening to country radio less. This was one of the main conclusions presented at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville today (March 3) by Larry Rosin, president of Edison Media Research.
Rosin also reported that country songs that hit No. 1 stayed there longer in 1999 than they did the year
before. Using charts from Radio & Records, Rosin said there were 40 No. 1 country hits in 1998, but only 18 last year. Noting
that Lonestar's "Amazed" logged in nine straight weeks at No. 1, Rosin speculated that its long stay at the top had helped
it cross over to pop radio, where it has again reached No. 1.
In pursuing women listeners, Rosin said, some radio
stations are testing their music only among women. Women, he explained, are more inclined to softer country sounds, the very
kind of music that has the best chance of crossing over to pop formats and thus finding new record buyers. Men listeners tend
to favor "rock-leaning," traditional and classic country music, he said, all of which have diminishing audiences.
suggested that in markets where there are two or more country stations, it might make sense to program music according to
gender preference. As it is, he maintains the only difference between stations within the same market is how frequently or
infrequently they play the same songs. He cited WHSL in Greensboro, N.C., as a station that is now reaching out to males by
programming rock jocks John Boy & Billy in the morning but playing country songs with an "upbeat, rollicking" flavor.
companies and radio are doing only moderately well in developing new artists, Rosin said. But he did note a rise in recognition
and popularity for the Dixie Chicks. Many acts that have been having hits for a long time, such as Steve Wariner and Mark
Chesnutt, still have a fairly low recognition factor among the country listeners Rosin surveyed.
In the discussion
period that followed Rosin's presentation, radio programmers Dene Hallam, of KYCY San Francisco, and Larry Daniels, of Daniels
Consulting, pointed out that general research conclusions had to be filtered through each station's local conditions. There
was also general agreement that country radio could not expect to broaden its appeal to men unless it includes men in their
Hallam observed that country radio stations are often reacting to market conditions rather than dictating
them. "Country does the best," he said, "when Top 40 sucks."