IdahoRadioNews: New ‘flow’ for The River

KRVB/Idaho’s 94.9 The River has been part of the Boise airwaves for just more than 13 years. It launched by evolving KFXJ/KF-95 in May of 2000. For quite some time, the station was thematically similar to its predecesor – and in its station imaging promoted that it played “world class rock” and sub-genres like blues, folk and reggae. Over the decade the station evolved – but in recent months has seen a fairly agressive format tweak.

Former KRVB logo
Former KRVB logo

Obvious changes like a new logo and tagline (“music first”) are accompanied by more subtle updates like the station’s playlist. But that playlist is really the soul of any station, and The River is flowing a bit faster these days.

A casual radio listener remarked to me that The River sounds a lot more like Mix 106 these days – and it doesn’t take long to hear the similarities. In the past week, The River played the latest track by Pink almost 40 times – a song that is at home on pop stations as much as on formats like the River.

In an interview with trade publication All Access, newly promoted program director Tim Johnstone acknowledged both the changes and the similarity to Mix – though Johnstone notes the similarities are as much drive by Mix’s deviation into his territory as anything.

tim-johnstone-2013-06-24“KCIX has been taking advantage of the groundwork we’ve laid for artists like The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, Of Monsters & Men and many of the singer/songwriters who have launched from this format,” he said. “In terms of overlap, it definitely ebbs and flows. Were in a heavy flow period currently.”

The River is one of those stations that has a unique place in the market. It might be cliche to say it is popular among North Enders – but there is possible some kernel of truth. One local agency rep once told me that it isn’t a coincidence that Subaru dealers find a good fit for their ads on The River.  The station clearly drives results from many advertisers – but it has long struggled in a key area: the ratings. Numbers have bounced in the 3.0 range (12+) for the last three books – at the bottom of the pile among the FM, English-language music stations.

While no official word is available on the station’s website or social media, it appears former Miss Idaho Misty Taylor has been added to mornings alongside Boise radio stalwart Ken Bass – with Tim Johnstone segueing to a live afternoon shift. Taylor actually appeared on the Boise morning radio waves once before – about a decade ago on KSAS/103.3 Kiss FM. They tease the change here – but it’s not clear if it’s permanent.

There is a vast land of opportunity for The River. KCIX was the number three station in the book on the broad ratings measure – and was exceedingly strong with women. If KRVB can chip a few listeners away – increased ad dollars should follow.