There has been an overwhelming response to the loss of Heartbeat 106.7 FM since the station changed formats last week, renaming itself 106.7 The Ride and shifting to a New Country format. As we noted Friday, a Facebook group had been started in protest, “Bring Back Heartbeat 106.7.” When I spoke to program director Mike Kennedy, he seemed unconcerned about this perspective — noting that the group had only “58 likes.” Over the weekend, however, the group approached 500 likes, as more former fans learned of the change. Steve Jonsson, the president of Signal Media, decided to respond yesterday, addressing Heartbeat fans directly and explaining the company’s reasons in more detail. Unusually candid in its admission that the station’s business model depends “not on playing great music but on reaching enough people so that the advertisers notice and decide they want to get their message out to those listeners,” the note is worth reading in full:
To our valued Heartbeat listeners….We do hear you and we are honored to find that there are so many people in the community who were passionate about our station.
Heartbeat began on July 19, 2011. For four years we put our time, sweat, money and creativity into making Heartbeat the very best R&B radio station in the country.
You may have noticed that Heartbeat evolved over those 4 years. We started by emphasizing “Old School” and we played a lot of hit oldies that were favorites from the 60’s and 70’s. We found that we were not getting the amount of listeners we needed to be profitable.
Next we tried updating the music and put in more songs from the 80’s and even some from the 90’s. That helped a little and we even broke into the top 10 stations in the market, but just barely.
Then we stopped growing. Ratings and revenue hit a wall and did not move. We knew that we had a large group of loyal listeners, but if Heartbeat did not grow, the station as a business would not pay for itself.
The harsh reality is that people’s jobs and paying the bills depend not on playing great music but on reaching enough people so that the advertisers notice and decide they want to get their message out to those listeners. As good as Heartbeat was, it did not have enough loyal listeners to make the advertisers commit their advertising budgets to the station.
Signal Media is a local company with an amazing group of dedicated people who work tirelessly to bring quality entertainment to Central Arkansas. Our management team has an obligation to those employees to make the right decisions so that the company can thrive and be successful.
We understand your disappointment over losing a great radio station and we share it. We wanted all of you to know that the decision to change the format on 106.7 was out of necessity, not just done on a whim.
Thank you for your support and we hope that you will enjoy one of our other stations if you are not a fan of New Country music.
Signal Media of Arkansas