A February 22 4th&B appearance by country artist Blake Shelton was sponsored by KSON, which means its competing station, U.S. 95.7, had no connection with the show.
The day before the concert, U.S. 95.7 DJ Mike O’Brian made the following on-air statement: “Our thoughts are going out to Blake Shelton, who I guess has tonsillitis and has had to cancel a couple shows. Hope you feel better, Blake,” O’Brian said with a chuckle.
Darlene Bieber, Blake Shelton’s spokesperson, says Shelton canceled no dates on his current tour because of tonsillitis or any other medical problems. Was U.S. 95.7 trying to sabotage the concert? O’Brian did not return a request for comment.
At the Shelton show in February, “U.S. 95.7 showed up with 15 of their promotion people, two vans, a truck, and two inflatables in front of 4th&B,” says KSON promotions director Jeremy Pritchard. “It’s the same bush-league stuff they’ve been doing for years.”
KSON general manager Darrel Goodin characterizes his competitor’s antics as “guerrilla warfare.” He says U.S. 95.7 promo teams have torn down signs and had verbal confrontations with his promo teams. “They have walked into the middle of our concerts and tried to give away T-shirts.”
Though radio stations that “present” a concert cannot bar a competitor from showing up to hand out bumper stickers (unless it’s a private venue), Goodin says it is silly to have two different radio-station promo teams “fighting over who gets to put a bumper sticker on a trash can.”
Goodin says U.S. 95.7’s aggressive behavior during country concerts has “forced” his station to avoid any connection with the summertime shows at Coors Amphitheatre, which include some of the biggest touring names in country music (Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney).
“All we asked [Coors Amphitheatre] is that all those shows would be neutral so that our listeners don’t have to see this behavior.” A “neutral” show would have meant both stations would “present,” but neither station would have a presence (banners, stickers, promo people) at the venue. Goodin says Coors Amphitheatre (which is owned by Live Nation…which used to be named Clear Channel Entertainment) would not agree to keep those concerts neutral, which seems to accommodate the alleged aggressive M.O. of U.S. 95.7 (which is owned by Clear Channel Communications).
But shouldn’t KSON make a connection with the biggest country concerts as they come to town?
“We have found that there is no correlation between a station’s presence at concerts and the success of that station,” says Goodin.
The latest Arbitron ratings show KSON is the number-one station in San Diego County, while U.S. 95.7 is 20th.
– Ken Leighton