Is There Value To Launching A New Brand With Known Local Talent?

Country 100.5 Mix Rochester WDVIIn late October there were a pair of format changes in New York State. Audacy’s flip of 94.7 WNSH Newark NJ/New York to Classic Hip Hop “94.7 The Block” WXBK got national buzz, while iHeartMedia’s debut of “Country 100.5” WDVI Rochester slipped under the radar of many.

WXBK is doing what has become the fairly industry standard way of launching a new brand in a big market: run commercial-free and jockless for a period (in this case 25,0000 songs through the end of the year as opposed to the more standard 5000 or 10,000), slowly begin to market the brand through their other stations, and build word-of-mouth buzz. As the first weekly ratings will just be coming out following the October 22 flip, we will not see public numbers with the new format until the November ratings period that will include 3 weeks out of four with the new format comes out December 1.

WDVI did something we rarely see anymore launching with a full, mostly local on-air lineup. While the station will carry The Bobby Bones Show in mornings, Program Director Julie Dunn moved to middays after serving as morning co-host for the former AC “Mix 100.5” brand. Megan Carter, who co-hosts the “Earl David Reed Show” on Hot Talk “Radio 95.1” WAIO, added duties tracking nights.

What helped WDVI come out of the gate strong was the hiring of former 92.5 WBEE morning co-host Jeremy Newman as afternoon host. Building a massive local following during his sixteen years on Audacy’s Country outlet, Newman’s 21,000 Facebook followers has given WDVI a huge boost on its own platforms as multiple posts promoting the new format have given the eight day old brand 3,685 legitimate followers out of the gate.

Jeremy Newman Facebook Post

WXBK has been more of a slow, but steady build. It is only at 300 Facebook followers, but with a format whose demos are on other platforms its Instagram following of 723 is more telling. That number has increased by over 100 people in each of the past two days after mostly being populated by radio industry professionals and radiogeeks in the first few days.

Will these very early numbers correlate into ratings out of the gate? Maybe not, but in terms of a local marketing push WDVI is well ahead of WXBK thanks to the value Newman’s brand equity in Rochester has given him. It will now be up to WDVI to capitalize on it and continue to market their new brand and personality to listeners and advertisers knowing what a known commodity he is.

This is a valuable lesson for other talent to consider in building their personal social media brands in their local markets. It has value not just to your current employer, but also to prospective future employers and advertisers to monetize.

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