This year started well even before last year ended, as Clear Channel signed-on KWMT/Tucson as their newest Triple A outlet, while morphing AC WBCG/Punta-Gorda into a Triple A station. And it didn’t stop there. By the end of 2004 there had been a number of new format sign-ons, everywhere from Westchester to Ann Arbor, with more rumored to be launching in early 2005 – or sooner. The evidence can be found in the FMQB reporting panel where, although WMPS/Memphis and KDNZ/Billings flipped formats out of Triple A, the panel grew during the year with the final tally of reporters reaching 109, and still growing.
On the music side, Triple A lived up to its legacy as a “music first” format, launching the careers of artists like Jamie Cullum, Donavon Frankenreiter, Keane, Ray LaMontagne, and Mindy Smith. Support also continued for recent year’s newcomers, exemplified by Los Lonely Boys, Norah Jones, Joss Stone and Rachael Yamagata. Of course the format’s heritage artists continued to get support as Elvis Costello, Ben Harper, Mark Knopfler, U2 and a host of others were getting enough spins to score impressive chart positions. And R.E.M. even set a new FMQB Triple A Most Added record in August, when 54 stations committed to Around The Sun the first week they had it! All that, and Triple A’s 25-54 demo still shows up in most studies as the most active music buyers in the country.
While things were just getting better and better for Triple A in 2004, a number of members of the community celebrated milestones. There are too many to mention, but some highlights include Norm Winer celebrating 25 years at WXRT/Chicago, Acoustic Café reaching their 500th show and Ray Gmeiner marking 25 years promoting records.
Triple A stations come up with creative new ways to serve their audiences every day, but one of the key developments in 2004 was KFOG/San Francisco’s From KFOG To iTunes launch. The program makes tracks from a private “Foghead” shows available through Apple’s iTunes music store and the inaugural installment came in January with a performance by The Thrills. KFOG went on to do more of these throughout the year, with other Triple A outlets following their lead into the world of “podcasts.”
Many members of the Triple A world brought new innovations to the playing field in 2004, many individuals moved around the format and an awful lot of good music got an awful lot of attention, with the above being just a few examples of the continued success of the format. The good news is that all indications are that 2005 will be even better!
– Jack Barton