Why Country Is Down This Summer: In the 1992 presidential campaign, the Clinton brain trust used the expression, "It's the economy, stupid"; meaning the economy would drive the election. Where our format is concerned, "It's the music, stupid." It all starts there, no matter how great everything else is on your station.
This past summer, Country radio experienced a slump. Lon Helton's Country Aircheck reports 28 stations down with just 16 up in share. I believe that this is not because there is any inherent problem with the format. There were plenty of good songs, but there wasn't one "must listen" song in current rotation. And several superstars released less than stellar new songs that got immediate heavy airplay; suppressing the recurrent and gold play of established hits on most stations. No matter how great our stations sound, it's tough to overcome.
Combine that with the fact that the economy forces most stations to go on summer vacation where mass marketing is concerned.
The good news is that the fall will be better. There are reaction songs making their way up the charts, like Chuck Wicks "Stealing Cinderella" and the Billy Ray Cyrus/Miley Cyrus duet "Ready, Set, Don't Go". Kenny Chesney has his best single in years, "Don't Blink".
Let's hear it for a great fall for Country radio!