Reclamation project available in Los Angeles. Huge upside.
By Paul Marszalek
In January and February of 2021, I wrote a couple of pieces in which I worried about the fate of the Alt format – particularly the version executed by Audacy.
In truth, I wish my take on the situation would’ve turned out to be wrong. I love the format and the music, past and present. However, everything I know about media, and I was taught by the best, told me these stations were truly in trouble.
While privately cheered by scores for “saying it out loud,” I was simultaneously dragged in social media by a few programmers, indie promoters, and the Maximum Alternative digital trade magazine.
Yet here we are.
San Francisco’s Live 105/Alt 105.3 is gone, the ratings of New York’s Alt 92.3 are even lower than they were when I wrote the original pieces, and KROQ is clearly beaten by its cross-town rival.
This has led the Alt trade press, led by Richard Sands’ The Sands Report to very politely broach the subject that something may be wrong within the format. Jacobs Media has recently been talking up the glory days of the Alternative format (before it devolved into a Limp Bizkit-led sausage party). And this week, even Maximum Alternative‘s Mike Parrish declared, “Somebody needs to say it, today’s ‘Alternative’ panel is an abject failure.”
Whether they smell blood in the water, see opportunity, or simply fear for their own Alt-adjacent livelihoods, people are talking about the format’s problems out loud, and this is very welcome news.
As they say, the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.
The second step in the recovery of Alternative is the reclamation of KROQ/Los Angeles.
Audacy announced today that Mike Kaplan, who had been splitting time between LA and NYC will now concentrate solely on Alt 92.3/New York.
As noted in a must-read backgrounder from Variety, Kaplan attempted to reinvent the format in a pop direction. It simply did not connect. Nor did the 180-degree turn back to Alt-rock recurrents. There were of course significant additional factors, ranging from COVID disruption to upheaval with talent.
In the posting for Vice President Programming, Audacy says it has “a once in a lifetime opening for a creative genius to lead the World Famous KROQ. This person has a passion for music, entertainment and culture. They are immersed in the latest social media trends and marketing shifts. Most importantly, this person is a big thinker, highly detail oriented and a dynamic leader.”
These people exist. Here’s hoping Audacy finds one and delivers the support they’ll need.