Does Linkin Park mix with Petco Park? Not really, according to newly released Nielsen ratings showing the results of the first full month Padres play-by-play aired on alt-rocker FM-94/9 — the station took a ratings hit.
Until this year, live Padres games aired on an AM talk or sports station. Modern rocker FM-94/9 took a gamble by agreeing to air the Padres for the next five years, mixing alt-rock with baseball.
Nielsen ratings showed that for April, FM-94/9 finished behind chief rival 91X for the first time in four years. FM-94/9 came in at 21st place, well behind 91X, which moved up to 15th place.
FM-94/9’s ratings slide could be temporary as Padres fans get used to the new station. Or, the tepid ratings could be connected to the fact that the Padres have the worst record in Major League Baseball. Or maybe it’s because live baseball and alt-rock don’t mix.
But 91X, which ruled the local airwaves in the ’80s and early ’90s, is logging its ratings resurgence at quite a cost. The station that once stormed the airwaves with the Ramones, the Clash, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Rage Against the Machine is showing new life because it has embraced dance-happy, synth-drenched pop hits. The once-nicknamed “cutting edge of rock” has gone pop.
Marian Hill, "Down"
Garret Michaels was program director of FM-94/9 (2002–2012) when Rolling Stone annointed that station as one of the cred-heavy “radio stations that don’t suck.” Now Michaels calls the shots at 91X. He defends his decision to give heavy 91X airplay to the Vocoder-doctored pop confection “Down,” by Marian Hill. “It’s the number-one streamed song in San Diego,” says Michaels.
And Michaels says he has no shame in playing Panic at the Disco’s sappy “Death of a Bachelor.” He says the kids want it. “Nowadays you have to throw it against the wall and see if it sticks….
Michaels says it’s become hard for rock bands to connect with today’s 18–34 crowd, which he says is alternative radio’s “target demographic.”
“‘Lights Out,’ by Royal Blood, is stalling at 27 on the alternative chart,” he says. “Rise Against’s new song is peaking at 22. It’s tough for rockers right now. Everything is cyclical, and right now there are very few true-blue rock bands making it in the format.”