© 2010 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.
As Editor and Publisher of Country Aircheck, Lon Helton keeps his readers in Country radio and the Country Music industry up to speed. Thousands follow breaking news each day in Country Aircheck Today, dig deeper into the issues via the weekly Country Aircheck Weekly, and track airplay for new releases each week in Country Aircheck “The Adds,” all of which are sent to radio and industry pros for free. A glossy, full-color print edition of Country Aircheck, published quarterly and also free, completes the comprehensive coverage.
But Helton and his team also receive tons of information from publicists and record labels that doesn’t quite fit the format of his magazine — specifically, news about the latest activities of artists.
Based on his experience as a broadcaster and publishing executive, Helton sensed that this information could help Country stations strengthen their ties to listeners. So he decided in December 2008 to launch an e-mail newsletter, similar in tone and feel to the look and content of Country Aircheck’s e-news blasts and Web site content but with a focus exclusively on artist news.
Known informally at Helton’s office as STAN (“Stations and Artists Newsletter”), it was beta-tested in March 2009 at KKGO/Los Angeles, WGH/Norfolk, Va., and WKLB/Boston. Since then, it has grown to include 26 stations, which format it as their own e-newsletter by featuring their logo, tagline and/or brand, and pass it along to approximately 500,000 P1s, or most active listeners.
From the start, Helton felt that this idea had potential. But when he encountered CMA’s landmark Country Music Consumer Research Segmentation Study, unveiled at CRS in 2009, he realized that it was even more promising than he had thought.
“We’re a small company, so to branch out and invest in a new business is a risky proposition,” Helton said. “But when the CMA Research validated what we thought through breakout groups that verified the value of fan newsletters, we were extremely excited because we were already on that case.”
Country Aircheck's artist e-newsletter reflects the research’s conclusion that it is imperative for the Country Music world to service the format’s most responsive fans — a.k.a., the “CountryPhiles.” By compiling and sending the latest artist news directly to radio stations, Helton and his staff provide a means for this targeted group to identify each station as a source not just of entertainment but also information about their favorite format and artists.
“The beauty of what we’re doing is that the station gets the credit,” Helton explained. “The Country radio station in each market is established to its listener base as the authority, the expert and the friend of the Country artist.”
The e-newsletter also serves artists, with content ranging from coverage of their Platinum and No. 1 parties through links to their Web sites and even an audio preview of an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” that featured Kenny Chesney, Darius Rucker, Sugarland and Carrie Underwood.
“Fans really want to know about their relationship with artists,” Helton said. “The CMA Research reminded everybody at Country radio how big that relationship is.” Country Aircheck's artist e-newsletter is available free to CMA Close Up readers, who can sign up at www.CountryAircheck.com/artistnews.html.
In-depth information from CMA’s Country Music Consumer Segmentation Study, CMA BrandProspectSM Segmentation Algorithm and CMA Prime Prospects Study is available at My.CMAworld.com.