With BDS and social media trending and all of the other opportunities for low-effort research and analysis, Radio has kind of forgotten that sometimes, you just need to go out and talk to people. It’s the best market research ever.
Wild in San Francisco launched strong but 10 months into it, it was still trying to find its music niche. They’d tried to out Urban KMEL, which failed. They tried mainstream CHR in a market where that had never really been a strong format. So, what was there to do?
Jerry Clifton pointed out that with the demise of Hot 97 in San Jose, there was a HUGE disenfranchised Hispanic audience 30 miles to the south, so he and Rick Thomas (greatest PD, possibly, ever) went down and hung around San Jose for about a week. Just went around to bars and corner markets and parks and record stores and talked to people.
“Someone needs to play Old School!” came back again and again and again. Rick had come from Z-90 in San Diego but really had just a passing knowledge of that music so they spent a few days immersed in it, went back to Wild, started adding in artists that included Roger & Zapp but most importantly, opened up the station to a million Hispanics down the road, and boom: they beat KMEL in a year.
God bless Coleman Research but they would have never pointed the 107.7 programming in the direction of Old School.