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How To Beat KLOVE

Bill Scott

Bill Scott

Either you are dealing with KLOVE in your market or you are fearing the day that they’ll sign on.  Just about everyone realizes the growth that KLOVE and Air1 has seen over the last decade is  nothing short of amazing.  With tens of millions of weekly listeners, you must admit they are doing something right.  I would even go as far as giving KLOVE credit for raising the bar for Christian radio.  I think they have raised the bar so high it often makes others angry, feel it’s simply out of reach or live in fear of what it might do to their radio station.

So the question is this?  How do you beat KLOVE?  Can you actually beat KLOVE when they sign on in your market.  For many of you it’s not if but when they do.  I think the good news in today’s article is I believe not only can you survive but you can thrive with KLOVE in your market.

I’ve asked a couple of radio friends to write about their experience with KLOVE in their market and how they handled the challenge.  I think you can gain some real insight to their experiences.

Bill Sammons from the Bridge in DE.  ”Our station finally signed on the air in December 2010 after a 13 year process with the FCC.  Contemporary Christian Music was coming back to the area at 88.7 FM!   Three months later, it also came to 105.5 and 92.1 as KLOVE purchased two signals in our market from Clear Channel and we went from 0 to 3 CCM stations overnight.

At first, we kind of freaked out.  We were a new, small, locally-owned ministry with almost no cash.  And here comes the well-financed, experienced, major market sounding giants.  They were giving away personal concerts from artists that we couldn’t even get CD’s from.   How were we supposed to compete with that?

We soon realized KLOVE wasn’t our enemy.  Would we have preferred they not move into the neighborhood?  Of course.  

There is no way we can compete with KLOVE.  So we don’t try. We basically ignore them and work to program our station the best we can.  If anything, KLOVE has made us better.  They make us think about what we are doing every minute of the day…knowing that if what we are playing is not the best song or element, if it is not interesting and relevant, our listeners have the option to push a button and leave us.  That is the reality even if you do not have a KLOVE in your market.  KLOVE just forces us to realize it.  

KLOVE forces us to get out in the community.  To buy billboards and TV commercials.  To talk about local things.  To hire a meteorologist for local weather forecasts.  To be honest, we would do these things anyway….because I am not really competing against KLOVE.  I am competing against CAT Country, and Froggy 99 and Q105.  I want their listeners.  3 and a half years into this, our philosophy seems to be working.  Honestly, we no longer talk about KLOVE.  We rarely listen, never play songs just because they are and we are solidly beating them in the ratings in our ten county TSA.   Program your station to be a great radio station regardless of who else is in your market.  Be a good steward of your frequency and ask God to use you, and He will.”   

Kevin Kruger formally of Positive Life Radio in Walla Wally WA and currently Vice President/General Manager, WGTS 91.9 had this to say.

“Sometimes we need a new question. It’s easy to fixate on KLOVE if you’re a CCM station that’s been in town for years and they suddenly show up in town. It’s wise to be aware of market dynamics, but worrying all the time about what someone else is doing is energy and time not spent on making your station the best it can be. 

When KLOVE came to my town (years and years ago), it was hard. Many of our listeners initially left us for them. We looked carefully at our business model. We acknowledged that there were things KLOVE could do that we couldn’t. But we had passionate and very talented people in our building. We had a better understanding of the local market and sought external coaching to help us implement programming and community involvement to successfully compete. But our focus was not on beating KLOVE. Our focus was on being the best station we could be – being the station we felt God had called us to be.

To bring it down to specifics:

– we tweaked our AC playlist just slightly to specifically appeal to our local audience

– we implemented community service programs assisting trusted local organizations

– we pushed ourselves as on-air talent and sought outside help to improve ourselves

– we celebrated and gave extra attention to churches, businesses and listeners who loved us. When others saw what was happening, they came on-board.

– we acknowledged that it was short-sighted to believe that KLOVE was our main competition. In reality, the data told us that other mainstream stations were our main radio competitors and that in truth, our competition is anything that grabs attention – mind share – of potential listeners. 

Know your spiritual calling. Know your community. Research and discover a business plan and implement it with everything you’ve got. Be excited, after all, we get to do radio! Talk about a fun and rewarding career!”

My goal with today’s article is to help all those who are dealing with KLOVE or another Christian station in your market.  I felt it was only fair to reach out to KLOVE for some insight and the first name that came to my mind was Alan Mason.  

Alan Mason – KLOVE

“If you have a strong local tie to your listeners and community and a high level of professionalism, there’s nothing to fear from K-LOVE coming into your market.  A syndicated format out of California should never beat a local station with an emotional connection to the listeners.”

Alan nails it.  The problem is we are finding more and more local stations that don’t have a local emotional connection with their listeners and that is a huge problem.

I think at the end of the day, it’s not about beating KLOVE, it’s about being the best radio station that God has called you to be.  Asking God for a unique vision for your community and following after it with all the passion you have.  

If you play the KLOVE game you’ll lose.  Perhaps God has called you to a different game, one that will allow you to impact your staff and listeners in an unbelievable way.  I often encourage clients to turn off KLOVE and focus on what God has given you.   True you may have to change your ‘business as usual’ strategy, you may have to get some outside coaching and you may even have to work harder than before but at the end of the day you can win, not by beating KLOVE but by being the best you can be. 

About Bill Scott

I've worked in Christian media for the last 30 plus years. Radio, TV, Publishing, Fundraising and more. The Bill Scott Group main focus is helping ministries go to the next level.

I've worked in Christian media for the last 30 plus years. Radio, TV, Publishing, Fundraising and more. The Bill Scott Group main focus is helping ministries go to the next level.

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  • KLOVE attempted to come into our market several years ago. There are at least 10 radio frequencies with Christian programming in our area, half of them are music. We are the oldest Christian station in our market; our state broadcasters association have awarded us station of the year, as well as best sports play by play (HS sports coverage), and Broadcasters of the Year to name a few. When the FCC documentation hit my desk, it raised this question: where’s the integrity? If KLOVE knows there are thriving stations in the market already then why come? It took a phone call to KLOVE and the denial of the FCC petition for a new station to keep them out. But even with our award winning station, they still wanted to come in. Radio is about community, that’s why our core value is simply this: Christian radio not just for Christians, but Christian radio for the community. It changes your whole game plan…

    • I’ll be the KLOVE defender here because I love them and know their heart. But this is just my opinion…

      Christian AC is very much a mass appeal format today. See WPOZ, KCMS, KSBJ, etc. If the local station isn’t consistently ranking top 3-5 with the target (Women 25-54), there would be no reason for KLOVE NOT to come in to the market. It could be said the same for Air1 and Women 18-34.

      Again, just my personal opinion.

  • I can’t say definitively that it’s the result of having to “compete” against K-Love, Air 1, and FLR, but I find the approach of Static Radio (the current format of Albuquerque’s KLYT and its translator network) to be very interesting–especially when it comes to its music. Seeing a lot of the comments in the post only served to reinforce that feeling.

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