Not so so many years ago, Boston had no country music radio stations at all. Then quickly there were two, which was cut in half.
As of 3 p.m. eastern time today and seemingly out of the blue, Boston now has two country radio stations again with the addition of 101.7 The Bull, a Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Boston station. The Bull took over for a electronic dance music station.
Just how all of this plays out and who benefits will take awhile to unravel, but here's hoping that the listeners will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
WBCS and WKLB were the two country stations in the Boston area with the former starting in 2003 and WKLB 3 years later. Eventually, WBCS merged with WKLB, which has steadily progressed to the point that it is a key player in the ratings war of Boston radio and has been nominated for national broadcasting honors.
One wondered whether the Cumulus Nash brand, which has been in the radio news a lot in recent months, would make its way to Boston, but that was pre-empted by the move today. Of course, that doesn't mean Nash won't come to Beantown in the future.
The Bull kicked off with Florida Georgia Line's "This Is How We Roll." A press release said artists such as Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church and Miranda Lambert will be key artists played by the station. That doesn't sound all that different from WKLB to these ears.
One difference, though, is that The Bobby Bones Show syndicated show will begin broadcasting this summer. Bones includes pop-culture, news and music and features on-air personalities Lunchbox and Amy, with special guest appearances from country artists. Programming will also include local news and events, exclusive album premieres, new song releases and a team of local Boston personalities to be announced soon.
WKLB has its own set of DJs except for After MidNite from Monday through Friday. The station also does not have news.
What will be most interesting to see is how and if listeners benefit. Some say that competition is always good. WKLB has come a long way in promoting country, and one key benefit has been the slew of concerts it brings to the Boston area. This is no longer a country music wasteland, as much as artists used to say.
I suspect that the addition of The Bull will result in even more concerts because the station has the power of Clear Channel behind it, and there is no way that the station will fall behind WKLB in offering live shows to its listeners. This would be a huge boon to country fans.
Who knows if Boston is big enough for the both of them. Let's hope that both are able to make a go of it and develop their place in the market with engaging programming. Wouldn't it be nice if they also went on the edge and played up-and-coming artists or more innovative programming? I wouldn't bet on, but here's hoping that two stations is better than one.