What Women Want? 

Memphis radio gets in touch with its feminine side.

The Black Eyed Peas, MC Hammer, The O'Jays, Shakira, Montell Jordan, and the Bee Gees. No, it's not a selection from a Saturday night at Alfred's. It's a sample list of the bands people at Entercom Radio think Memphis women want to hear.

Songs by those artists and others in the up-tempo-pop genre are played in heavy rotation on the new Snap 94.1, which switched names from The Buzz to the female-leaning format last Monday.

"This is targeted at women 18 to 49 and has been heavily researched within the Memphis market," said Steve Sandman, vice president and market manager for Entercom Radio in Memphis.

Sandman says the station performed six weeks of market testing on local women chosen by a screening company. The women listened to the eight most familiar seconds of certain songs -- also called hooks -- and rated each selection in categories ranging from "totally dislike" to "one of my favorites."

The results found that local women were hungry for a station that focused on upbeat music ranging from Motown and disco to '80s pop and early '90s dance music. The station plays some new music but mostly focuses on older, more familiar hits.

"It's for the woman that goes to the mall and shops at Old Navy, but when it's time for fun, she would go dancing with her girlfriends at Studio 54 in New York City," said Sandman.

Despite decent rating, the Buzz went off the air at 5 p.m. October 27th without warning. The station ran a computerized countdown clock throughout the following weekend, and Snap was launched October 30th with no DJs or drive-time shows.

Sandman would not comment on the job status of Buzz DJs but says the station is in the process of taking resumes and auditioning for new Snap DJs. The station will no longer be airing syndicated morning show Kidd Kraddick.

The station's decision to switch to a more female-oriented format came shortly after another local station made a similar change. Citadel Broadcasting's Power 99, previously a hip-hop station, became the female-friendly Kim FM in September.

Though there is some overlap in what the two stations play, Kim's station manager Lance Tidwell says they're playing more "1970s and 1980s white pop rock" while Snap features more dance music.

Also unlike Snap, Tidwell says Kim changed formats because the previous station garnered mediocre ratings.

Kim is aimed at women ages 25 to 54 and plays artists such as Elton John, Billy Joel, Bryan Adams, Madonna, Heart, Pat Benatar, and Bon Jovi.

"Kim would be a 36-year-old, right in the core of the demographic of professional working mothers," says Tidwell. "She would have graduated high school in 1987 or 1988, so the music most influential in her life would be the music spanning 1976 through the early '90s."

The adult variety format started in Canada with a station called Jack FM in 2000. With its success, stations in the U.S. and the U.K. adopted similar variety-hits formats aimed at men or women and giving the stations names such as Ben FM in Philadelphia and Jill FM in Los Angeles.

Entercom also acquired FM100 last week, and DJs Garner Miller, Steve Conley, and market manager Terry Wood were let go. However, Sandman says he does not anticipate format changes for that station.

"FM100 is a great brand and it's been in the market for years," said Sandman. "There may be some similar songs on FM100 [compared to Snap], but it's more family-oriented. It's a different way to reach the audience musically."

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