Country Radio leaves NYC with WNSH Flip to Hip-Hop

Cumulus Media launched WNSH in New York in 2013, ending a decade of country radio programming there after WYNY-FM switched to contemporary Spanish in 2002. Audacy (formerly Entercom) took over WNSH in 2019. In September, WNSH ranked 21st in New York City marketing, capturing a 1.9% share of the local market, according to Nielsen Media. Its highest share in the past six months was 2.5 in July.

“Obviously, Audacy saw a better opportunity with a different format. You can’t blame them for it, ”says Joel raab, country radio and media consultant. “There is a 2 share for the country in New York if you just put it and market it heavily, I think there is a 3 share unless you put on personalities that appeal to the- beyond the country format. “

WNSH’s departure from earthwaves is not seen as devastating for the country genre, unlike WYNY’s demise due to the increase in streaming and satellite radio over the past decade. Raab says it will be “a little more difficult” for artists – especially new artists – to enter the New York market, but “they have other avenues.” [SiriusXM’s] The highway, Spotify, Apple, Pandora, you name it. Ten years ago, these options weren’t as available. However, none of them are free. It’s a big advantage with the radio. “

“There are definitely ways for people to access music if they want to, but we’re sad that [country] no longer part of the New York area as far as a radio signal is concerned, ”says Royce Risser, executive vice president of promotion for Universal Music Group Nashville.

He adds that while digital service providers and satellite radio will greatly fill any exposure gap, WNSH has been able to provide local support that other outlets cannot, in terms of program sponsorship. in the region or as an essential part of promotional efforts. “We’ll get by, but we would definitely prefer to do it with a New York station,” he says.

Two other country radio stations remain in the greater metropolitan area – Eastern Long Island, New York’s WJVC and Monmouth, NJ’s WKMK – but neither have a strong enough signal for New York. The lack of a strong signal has also hampered WNSH’s success, Raab believes. “WNSH was challenged by the signal,” he said. “They weren’t giving a good signal on Long Island, where there would have been heavy pockets of country music listeners.”

While the New York market may miss acts like Luke Combs, Elvie Shane and Carrie Underwood on country radio, Risser says the WNSH turnaround shouldn’t be misinterpreted “to gauge how the country is doing overall.” Curtis adds, “I don’t think that means country music is in trouble. There was a long term challenge [in New York.] For 10 years many companies had the opportunity and stayed away, but we all want to see a big signal like New York having a country radio station.

Audacy declined to comment beyond a press release announcing the change, which notes that country programming will still be available on 94.7 HD2 and on Audacy’s app and website.

Assistance with this story provided by Gary Trust

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