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How to Successfully Execute a Format Flip

3-26-13

Changing formats can be an agonizing decision for a GM. How many listeners will we alienate? How bad will they beat us up on social media? Do we have the marketing budget for a new launch? What will the advertisers think of our stability? Do we have to fire anyone? When companies own multiple stations in one market, it's rare all of them are top performers. Connoisseur was running into this challenge at its Long Island cluster at 94.3 on the dial.

That all changed when CEO Jeff Warshaw decided he wanted to enter the Rock battle, a format WBAB-FM has dominated for three decades. As a result, "The Shark" was born. Nearly one year after its launch, the brass at Connoisseur  are all smiles about "The Shark." Early ratings have been very strong. Marketing of the product has created a nice buzz on the island. And, most importantly, revenue is up, according to Market Manager Dave Widmer. The station mixes classic rock music with newer rock music, which according to the research Connoisseur paid for, works with the younger demo.

Coleman Insights President and COO Warren Kurtzman who helped Connoisseur with the launch said, "Jeff Warshaw, Mike Driscoll, David Bevins and their team at Connoisseur continually demonstrate that “doing radio right” generates ratings and revenue, with the launch of the Shark simply serving as the latest example of that.  We are proud to contribute to their success."

Widmer says the numbers are so tremendous, so good, it almost borders on unbelievable. But, he adds, we've done our homework. "It's not a fluke. This is a radio station has some legs to it. Listening occasions are high, 6-8 a day. That's a good sign. It's more than buzz. As a GM, I want to know what I'm working with here. We're out on the streets selling this. So we tell the story of how we got here by telling advertisers here's what the problem was, here's our research and here's what we've executed. Connoisseur is not afraid to spend money on research and marketing."

In addition to the research, Connoisseur has made a significant investment in marketing and promotion, according to Widmer. The station vehicle certainly gets noticed, Television campaigns have been running and artist concert fly-aways are part of the on the air. Amazingly, The Shark has accomplished all of this early success without a live morning show, giving some credence to the notion that consumers want more music and less talk. It also puts Widmer in an interesting position. How long does he go without a live morning team?

Listen to our Podcast with Connoisseur Long island Market Manager Dave Widmer on how to execute a successful format flip HERE.

You can listen to The Shark HERE




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