If you grew up in the 1990s in Seattle, say goodbye to KUBE 93 and its hip-hop legacy. It’s now a Tacoma station with a signal that fuzzes out north of Seattle and in the Eastside.
All of you 30- to 40-somethings who grew up with KUBE 93 listening to hip-hop. Remember taking it to the top of the rating chart as it played Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys and LL Cool J?
You probably still have it on your car radio’s preset at 93.3 these days for those long commutes to work.
It must have been a surprise this week to find that KUBE is gone from that spot.
In its place is a nothing-but-the hits station calling itself POWER 93.3.
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On the station’s Facebook page, a listener named Alex posts, “No signal up north, bye kube.”
Every generation gets to experience their favorite disc jockeys and favorite stations going away. Now it’s your turn.
On the Instagram account of Eric Powers, the longtime KUBE program director and personality let go in the format change, he posted:
“Thanks for an amazing 25 years … This is where I grew up! I love this city.”
KUBE is owned by iHeartMedia, a media colossus based in San Antonio, Texas, that owns more than 850 radio stations. Besides KUBE, it owns 12 stations in this state, including KJR-AM-FM and 106.1 KISS-FM. It used to be called Clear Channel.
On Tuesday it announced it was flipping formats on four stations it owns in this market.
“This is one of the larger multi-format flips I can recall. And I’ve been covering the business for 35 years,” says Joel Denver, president and publisher of All Access Music Group, an industry publication.
The big change was with KUBE. Say goodbye to hip-hop, and a big hello to Taylor Swift.
It’s all about the metrics.
In their simplest form, let’s look at the Nielsen ratings metrics for Sept. 15 to Nov. 15 of last year, for that oh-so-coveted 18-to-49 age group.
Now, you older people might think, “Jeesh, I’m not paying off student loans, I’ve got a retirement check, I’ve got disposable income; how come I’m not coveted?”
These days, Portable People Meters can give stations audience numbers literally by the minute. With advertisers deciding whether to make a buy on a particular station, or maybe buy ads on Internet music services such as Spotify or Pandora, you’d better provide numbers to convince them.
Right at the top of the Seattle radio ratings is KQMV, better known as “MOViN 92.5, Seattle’s only station for all the hits!”
KUBE is at No. 13.
“What it comes down to is ‘MOViN.’ They’ve got the lion’s share of the market,” says Denver.
iHeartMedia, he says, is going after the No. 1 station, “taking a hard run at moving this ball forward, at disrupting listening patterns.”
To get attention for switch, POWER 93.3 has been playing 10,000 songs commercial-free. That’s a tried-and-true technique when stations change formats, going back to the 1960s “more music, more often” days.
For radio fans, here are the other changes with iHeartMedia stations here.
KISS FM (No. 7 of 53 stations among listeners ages 18-49) will go from Top 40 to Hot Adult Contemporary. That’s an incremental change.
KYNW (tied for No. 27 in the rankings) will go from Adult Top 40 to Alternative Rock.
KKBW (No. 30 in the rankings when it played classic rock) has become the new Tacoma home for KUBE.
Speaking about the low ratings for the latter two stations, and the changes made, “Now you can understand why,” says Kent Haehl, Seattle market president for iHeartMedia.
About the KUBE changes, says Kathy Neukirchen, president of Media Plus, a Seattle media-buying agency, “They really don’t have much choice in order to stay relevant.”
And since a lot of its urban-oriented listeners were in South King County and Pierce County, says Neukirchen, it will be at home in radio-dial position that aims at the South Sound.
Still, an older generation of KUBE listeners has been posting sentimental messages.
Fans responded: “So many memories ugh my heart hurts rip kube 93. The sound track to my life … ”
“Can’t believe they’d do this! KUBE is not just a Seattle legend, but a nationwide legend!”
Powers would not comment for this story and Haehl says that Powers “was a fantastic employee” but that “We made a business decision.”
On KUBE’s Facebook page, Leah Coughlin, 46, Blanchet High Class of 1987, now a tax accountant, posted this plaintive message, “Why the change?”
She is read excerpts from the news release from iHeartMedia explaining the changes.
Coughlin still has the same plaintive message. The words from management don’t translate to the 1990s memories.