It didn’t come as much of a surprise to some local radio listeners, but it was a short run for 94.7 as Santa-FM.
The former 94.7 Rocks radio station, operated by Leighton Broadcasting in Grand Forks, became the place for constant Christmas tunes on Monday when it dropped the rock format after about three years.
But 94.7 switched again Wednesday to a Top 40 pop format when it re-emerged as Z94.7 – a station that Leighton officials hope will compete with Clear Channel’s popular hits station XL93.
I spoke with operations manager Jarrod Thomas on Wednesday afternoon to find out more about the change and why the station decided to go with a stunt format (all Christmas music, all the time) in order to get some attention before the real change. You can read more about it in an article in Thursday’s Herald, and I’ll include a bit of the story below. I’d like to hear what you think of the chain of events this week – are you glad they dropped the Christmas tunes? What about the switch to a pop format? And I’d be interested in hearing what you think the Grand Forks radio market needs – is there a format that we’re missing that Clear Channel or Leighton should look into? Or are the GF airwaves fine just the way they are?
But Jarrod Thomas, the companyâ€™s operations manager, said Wednesday that the temporary holiday spirit that overtook the station and local airwaves was â€œan effort to generate buzz.â€
This type of attention-getting change is known in the industry as a stunt format, a short-lived switch to something that seems out of place â€” like Christmas music on a hot and muggy August day â€” that gets people talking right before a station digs into its new music library.
â€œAs we thought about it, nothing really drew more attention to a radio station on a hot summer day than a bunch of street teamers out on the street wearing Santa costumes and waving signs,â€ Thomas said.
At 9:47 a.m. Wednesday, the Christmas music stopped and 94.7 Santa-FM became Z94.7, a contemporary hit radio station that will play Top 40 pop songs.
Thomas said the decision to go with this format came after looking for a gap in the local radio market.
â€œWe identified the contemporary hit radio demographic as one that wasnâ€™t being serviced very well,â€ he said. â€œWe decided that Z94.7 is certainly a format that will have mass appeal to females.â€
I wrote a quick story Monday about a Grand Forks radio station switching to a somewhat unusual format – year-round Christmas music.
Santa, of course
Leighton Broadcasting’s FM station 94.7 Rocks, up until Monday morning a rock station, suddenly became 94.7 Santa-FM. You may have noticed folks standing in Santa suits around town to get some local buzz about the change, and you can read my article that was in Tuesday’s Herald.
But there are some skeptics about this format switch. Shortly after my story was posted online Monday evening, I got an e-mail from a reader warning me that I should take the station’s operations manager Jarrod Thomas “with a grain of salt.” The reader provided some links on Wikipedia that discuss gimmicks that radio stations sometimes use while switching formats – think of it as a way to get curious residents talking about the station before it suddenly switches again to its real new format. Here’s a link about stunt broadcasting, and there are even cases of Christmas music being used as a stunt format during a switch like this.
But all speculation aside, all I can go with today is what Jarrod Thomas told me during a quick interview on Monday. Here’s part of my article:
The Grand Forks airwaves became a little more festive on a muggy summer day when a rock radio station became the place to hear holiday music â€” even in August.
Jarrod Thomas, operations manager for Leighton Broadcasting, said Mondayâ€™s switch from 94.7 Rocks to 94.7 Santa-FM means listeners can expect â€œall Christmas music, all the time.â€
â€œRadio is kind of an evolving medium, always has been,â€ he explained. â€œAnd research has shown us that people really do like Christmas music 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.â€
In a Monday news release, station officials said they had undergone â€œthe most arduous and focused research test everâ€ before making the switch. Thomas said he thinks the idea of a year-round Christmas station is something that will catch on across the country.
â€œWho doesnâ€™t like Christmas music?â€ he asked. â€œIf you speak out against Christmas music youâ€™re really speaking out against the season, and who doesnâ€™t like Christmas?”
Coheed & Cambria are looking for some good local opening bands on their current tour, and that means a local group will be picked to start their Oct. 12 concert in Fargo at The Venue at The Hub.
Here are the details courtesy of the New York rock band’s website:
Indie Prog-rockers Coheed and Cambria, citing their desire to support local music, announced today a contest to pick a local â€œopenerâ€ for each date along the 16-city U.S. and Canadian tour this October. Â The contest will take place on the bandâ€™s official Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/coheedandcambria
Coheed & Cambria
Coheed vocalist Claudio Sanchez explained, â€œWhen we first started touring, local bands were a very important part of the process. Â Almost every tour had local openers on each show, but now itâ€™s much more common to have a set national package of bands touring through all the cities. While that can be easier at times, it makes it tough on local bands, and local scenes havenâ€™t flourished like they once did. Â Hopefully this helps bring awareness to some good up and coming music.â€
Bands and artists wishing to enter should go to Coheed and Cambriaâ€™s Facebook Event Pages http://bit.ly/coheedevents and post a link to their music as a comment on the show they are eligible for. Next, they will need to get friends and fans to vote by â€œlikingâ€ their link.
Coheed and Cambria will select a winner out of the top 3 â€œlikedâ€ bands in each market.
Additionally, Fang Island will be joining the band on this leg of the tour as direct support on all dates (except Boise and Missoula). Â Their progressive, experimental power-pop sound has garnered the attention of Pitchfork Media, along with indie rock subculture supporters alike.
Coheed and Cambria continue to tour in support of Year of the Black Rainbow, their 5th studio album, which debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200, their highest debut to date.
Tickets go on sale for most shows this Friday, August 20, but there is a special one-day fanclub presale today at Â http://tixx1.artistarena.com/coheedfans/.
Check the event pages for detailed information.
To view the Fargo concert event page, click here. I read on another blog that votes might not count unless the voter has said they’re going to the Oct. 12 Coheed & Cambria concert. May the best local band win – contests like this are great to get more local attention and could lead to bigger things, so this is a good event for the local scene.
I have to thank ianmore for pointing out this contest to me – I hadn’t heard about it until he commented on Valley Sound. Thanks for the tip!
I’ve heard of a few interesting concerts coming up in Grand Forks and Fargo that are worth mentioning.
- 32 Below, a band of country-rockers from Fargo, perform at the UND street dance this Sunday. It’s part of UND’s Welcome Weekend for new students. The street dance is free and will be held behind the Memorial Union on Second Avenue North from 9 p.m. to midnight. A free concert is always a good deal – but remember, you need a valid student or faculty/staff ID to get into the street dance.
- Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome will play the final Concerts in the Garden series show at the North Dakota Museum of Art on Tuesday, August 24 at 7 p.m. This classic rock horn band from Fargo has played the museum’s concert series for the past four years. Tickets are $7 at the door – the music will happen in the sculpture garden of the Museum of Art, which is located on the UND campus.
- Jade Presents announced on Friday that they are selling combo tickets for two upcoming Fargo concerts at a discounted price. The “Rocktober Special” works like this: get tickets for two concerts for $35, a savings of $15 off buying $25 tickets individually for the two shows. This deal applies to the Coheed & Cambria show (8 p.m. Oct. 12 at The Venue at The Hub) and tickets for the Bullet For My Valentine concert (8 p.m. on Oct. 14 at The Venue at The Hub). If you’ve already bought a ticket for one show and want to take advantage of this deal, bring your ticket into Tickets 300 (300 Broadway, Fargo; open M-F from noon to 6 p.m.).
Jade Presents has recently announced a couple more big names that will perform in Fargo this fall.
On Thursday, the company announced that Keller Williams will perform at the Fargo Theatre on September 23. It’s an all ages, general admission show; doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale this Friday at noon – tickets are $24, available at Tickets300, Tickets300 kiosks at downtown Fargo & Moorhead Atomic Coffee locations, by phone at 1-800-514-3849, and online at www.jadepresents.com.
Coheed & Cambria
Announced last week was an upcoming concert by Coheed & Cambria with opening act Fang Island. That show is happening at The Venue at the Hub on Tuesday, October 12. The doors open at 7 p.m.; music starts at 8 p.m., and it’s an all ages, general admission show.Â Tickets for this concert also go on sale Friday for $26 in advance or $28 the day of the show.
As you may have noticed, Valley Sound has changed its appearance about four or five times in the past two weeks. That was due to a massive switch in blogging technology as AreaVoices upgraded to WordPress, a move that has been confusing, complicated but also exciting as I started to figure out the many new options that came with the change.
However, this latest change (that happened sometime Wednesday or Thursday) is not by my design. The kind folks at Forum Communications are gearing up for banner advertising on some of the in-house Forum staff blogs, including Valley Sound. This latest change comes as the start of preparing my blog for a bigger advertising presence. That means that, at least for a while, Forum Comm. has disabled a good chunk of the controls I use to edit Valley Sound. So I will do my best to get occasional new posts on here. And I’ll see what I can do to make a few new pages, one of the only things I’m still allowed to do. I apologize for a theme and header that a co-worker best described as “Serenity Now!” – a strange pick for a blog about music. Now’s the waiting game… I hope the company hands back some of the controls soon.
I just saw an interesting upcoming event in an email announcing ten organizations that will receive grants from the Greater Grand Forks Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The money will help support the organizations as they plan upcoming events in the city.
The 2010 North Valley Arts Council Zombie Concert picked up a $500 grant from the CVB, and the name of the event made me interested in finding out more. Here are all the details I’ve been able to figure out so far, according to the North Dakota Council on the Arts website:
Oct 2 – NOVAC announces its first annual Zombie Concert in Grand Forksâ€™ Town Square- the first event of its kind in Grand Forks. Â The Zombie Concert will be held from 4-10pm. Regional rock bands will play, and there will be food, a zombie make-up booth, photo booth, and more. Event-goers are encouraged to dress as zombies, but itâ€™s absolutely not required.
Here are the events that received grants from the CVB:
- 2010 North Valley Arts Council Zombie Concert – $500
- 2010 Lutheran Youth Organization of the NW MN Synod of the Evangelical Church Youth Convention-$1,500
- 2010 ND State Breastfeeding Conference-$250
- 2010 ND Lions Convention-$1,000
- 2010 ND Planning Association State Conference-$1,000
- 2010 Red River Womenâ€™s Studies State Conference-$500
- 2010 Thrive ND Leadership Event-$500
- 2010 ND Foster Parent Conference-$500
- 2010 Special Olympics State Soccer & Bocce Tournament-$500
- 2011 Jr. Grand Am Basketball Tournament-$2,000
What looking at html coding for hours at a time makes me want to do
I spent a chunk of my weekend looking through embed coding, shortcode guides and even watching YouTube tutorial videos about one thing – getting a Google calendar to embed into a WordPress blog. Despite my best efforts, nothing worked out.
But I haven’t give and remain committed to getting a functional calendar back on Valley Sound as soon as possible. After that, I’d like to get a Twitter widget or two on here, and would like to see what I can do on WordPress with uploading audio and video.
So there are some cool things on the way for Valley Sound if it all works out. We’ll see how soon I can get it all to work.
For now, the best thing might be a link to the Google calendar that shows the most recent upcoming concerts I know of. I’m still hoping I can embed it soon, and would like to setup a separate page that you can click on to open a full calendar. But, for now, please follow this link to keep up to date with live music: http://www.google.com/calendar/feeds/ryan.johnson3%40gmail.com/public/basic
And I’ll be the first person to admit that I don’t know what I’m doing on WordPress. So, if you have any suggestions on a good overview of using WP, or especially if you have some tips on how to embed a Google calendar (without rewriting lines of code and downloading plug-ins), that would be great. You can share your thoughts as a comment, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Thanks for the help. With a little more work and a few more days of getting over the glitches, I think Valley Sound could be better than it’s ever been after this much-needed boost of software.
There have been a few glitches during the big switch on AreaVoices, but I think things will continue to get a little better each day.
I’ve figured out basic posting stuff and hope to learn a few more tricks each day. My goal is to get a Google Calendar back on Valley Sound as soon as possible, and then I’ll work on adding a Twitter widget and other new functions. But it could take some time to get everything back on track.
I’ll start posting on here again next week. In the mean time, let me know if you’re having any problems with the new blog or if you have some suggestions on what I should do with Valley Sound. Thanks.
The kind folks at Forum Communications have done something that I think generally will be a good thing – they’ve scrapped the FCC-owned AreaVoices blogging platform in exchange for WordPress, which will add new features and make the blogs more modern.
But like many online updates, this one is sure to cause some glitches for at least a few days. There are already some problems after the early morning switchover that happened Tuesday… I’m hoping to get those all worked out soon.
And as I get more familiar with WordPress, I’m excited to add new features to Valley Sound – things like Twitter widgets, a less glitchy music calendar and more use of videos and photos are what I have planned for now.
In the mean time, please bear with me as I get everything back in order and restore Valley Sound to a blog that doesn’t look so, um, white and default-ish.
If you have any suggestions for using WordPress, or think there are some widgets or features I should add with this change, I’d appreciate hearing those as well. Thanks for your patience.