If you don't think deregulation has had an impact on the broadcasting industry, just take a look at Colorado Springs radio. Of the top 10 music stations here in our market, not a single one is locally owned. In fact, eight of the 10 are owned by two of the nation's largest media conglomerates, Clear Channel Communications and Citadel Broadcasting.
Ross Ford, program director and morning DJ for local ratings leader KILO-FM, figures that's a big part of what gives his station an advantage. Colorado's flagship "active rock" station is owned by North Carolina's Bahakel Communications, which Ford describes as a "mom and pop" company with less than a dozen stations. (By comparison, Clear Channel and Citadel own more than a thousand between them.)
"One of the benefits of being family-run and locally operated," says Ford, "is that we've got local jocks shopping at King Soopers alongside the people they serve, and drinking downtown at local taverns. It's a community bond you can't get with just one local guy doing the programming."
As for KDZA-FM (107.9) and its transition to an active rock format earlier this week, Ford says he's not worried: "We've had people take a run at us year after year over our 31 years. Clear Channel already tried it a few years ago with KMOM, and it failed miserably."
With KILO at the head of the pack, below are the current top music stations in the Colorado Springs market, ranked in order of listenership according to Arbitron ratings for the first quarter of 2009.
1. KILO, 94.3 FM
In 31 years on the air, KILO hasn't deviated from its rock format. While the station is owned by North Carolina-based Bahakel Communications, its programming is live and locally produced. These days, bands like Slipknot and Mudvayne get heavy rotation.
2. (tie) KKLI, 106.3 FM
KLite, the most popular local Clear Channel station, plays Top 40 hits minus hip-hop and rap. Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus are currently the station's top requested artists. To switch things up, I Love the 70s and 80s plays all weekend.
2. (tie) KBIQ, 102.7 FM
KBIQ has the distinction of being one of only two stations on this list not owned by Clear Channel or Citadel Broadcasting. The contemporary Christian music station belongs to California-based Salem Communications, which owns 98 U.S. stations.
2. (tie) KKMG, 98.9 FM
"Magic FM" plays all the Billboard pop hits with an emphasis on hip-hop artists like Rihanna and Sean Kingston. The station is owned by Citadel and, like the other three Citadel stations on this list, offers a mixture of live and syndicated broadcasts.
5. KVUU, 99.9 FM
"My 99.9"'s Top 20 includes several popular genres: hip-hop, country and alternative rock. This range makes it Clear Channel's most inclusive local station. Don't expect any small names though, since massive success is a prerequisite for airtime.
6.(tie) KIBT, 96.1 FM
The Beat is the only station in this list fully dedicated to hip-hop. However, there is lots of overlap between this Clear Channel station's Top 20 and that of KVUU, which belongs to the same company. This week, four songs appear in both station's Top 10.
6. (tie) KKFM, 98.1 FM
KKFM claims to play "Colorado's ONLY Real Classic Rock." Like other Citadel stations, KKFM features live shows weekdays and mornings, with syndicated programming on weekends and nights. The latter includes Saturday Night Workforce Party with Alice Cooper.
8. (tie) KCCY, 96.9 FM
This is one of two stations in the Top 10 that exclusively plays contemporary country. Once again, Cyrus and Swift are mainstays. Other fixtures on this Clear Channel station are Kenny Chesney and Lady Antebellum.
8. (tie) KKPK, 92.9 FM
Peak FM, another Citadel station, describes its lineup as "a mountain of favorite songs," meaning no longer contemporary but not aged quite enough to be considered real oldies. Think artists like Rod Stewart and Prince.
10. KATC, 95.1 FM
Cat Country is Citadel's answer to the contemporary country crowd. Its music choices are virtually the same as Clear Channel's KCCY.
List compiled by Virginia Leise.