KKGL/96.9 The Eagle used to be one of the Boise market’s top-rated radio stations. Its mix of syndicated show Bob & Tom and classic rock from the 70s and 80s scored top marks with adult men – and even many women.
But along the way, the station faltered. It cut back, retrenched and saw its ratings fade like a pair of stone-washed jeans. Wave upon wave of corporate consolidation seemed to diminish the station even further as it passed from Citadel to Cumulus.
Ratings were so bad that during the 2012 fall ratings period, the station got beat in the morning drive by Mix 106 — among adult men. Mike & Kate are a popular show to be sure, but drop-kicking the Eagle among men with a very female-driven show was nearly unthinkable just a few years ago. (Back in 2008 I noted how the station was the dominant number one).
These days, the station still clings to Bob & Tom. It also features longtime Boise radio vet Scott Cruise. But oddly, Cruise appears on the Eagle and sister station Nash FM at the same time. Not much of a trick in the day of pre-recorded radio, but perhaps a sad sign of corporate consolidation.
In recent months, changes have come to the airwaves of The Eagle. New afternoon host “Forrest” arrived, followed shortly thereafter by a new after-7 talent.
Perhaps those seem like mundane changes. But station management appears to be adding “sex and drugs” to the rock & roll.
In May, the station posted this teaser:
The image linked to a larger, um… fuller image.
When the new jock “Lindsey Marie” debuted, she got the requisite bio on the station’s website, written in first-person voice. The first line, stretched across the top in large font uses a word many find increasingly repugnant:
Hi. I’m Lyndsey. I have a mild case of social retardation, but luckily, I also have a microphone so it all gets captured for you 7p-Midnight
Beyond objectification of women and disregard for those with mental disabilities, the station is in full-on “drugs are cool, man” mode in advance of a Cheech & Chong concert this summer.
The aforementioned afternoon jock Forrest posted this photo to Twitter this week:
— Forrest (@rabidforrest) July 8, 2014
With a sign touting the station’s relationship with Boise State in the background and an extra “tobacco pipe” in the foreground, the announcer makes it appear he’s taking a bong hit while in the middle of his shift. One local rival snarked “my guy would be fired for posting a public photo like this.” When I ruminated on Twitter that maybe a blog post was due, Forrest seemed to think that was a great idea, giving his stamp of approval with a retweet:
— Don Day (@DonLDay) July 10, 2014
These are just a few disparate items but they seem to add up to a strategy shift: let’s appeal to men’s more primal instincts. Sex. Drugs. Careless language.
It’s a tactic that works in many markets across the country. But is Boise one of them? The area is stocked with conservatives, and I find even the self-identified liberals are generally pretty moderate in many ways. Maybe the audience will grow, but will blue chip advertisers want spots next to the drugs and the sex?
Time, and the constant pressure of the Nielsen ratings book, will tell.
UPDATE: Forrest pulled the tweet and corresponding image from Twitter. But he left a similar shot in Instagram:
Forrest also un-re-tweeted the tweets and basically seemed to retrench.
Also, the out-of-market night talent, Lyndsey from Atlanta, dialed me up on Twitter with a response:
@LyndseyOnAir It's not really about you… and that's not really what I said.
— Don Day (@DonLDay) July 11, 2014
— Don Day (@DonLDay) July 11, 2014
Don Day is the Digital Sales & Product Manager for KTVB, and wrote & edited the now-defunct IdahoRadioNews.com for five years.