KMTT-FM The Mountain is no more

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103.7 The Mountain ends its schizophrenic format streak and becomes Rhythmic Hot AC

The unofficial end of summer isn’t the only thing Labor Day signals. As is true with many long holiday weekends, it’s also when radio stations make changes in preparation for the fall book, as well as do some jockeying to position themselves to prosper from upcoming seasonal advertising.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Entercom made the move on Friday to switch from Classic Rock “103.7 The Mountain” KMTT to Rhythmic Hot AC “Hot 103.7, The Rhythm of Seattle.” The station has been rudderless for some time, swaying from one form of AC to another since giving up on AAA back in 2011. The station registered a 2.4 in the July PPMs and, according to Scarborough Research, attracted fewer than 7,000 AQH adults.KMTT The Mountain replaced by The Rhythm of Seattle Hot 103.7

The latest format change is intended to attract the modern woman, giving her “everything our competitors are not.” So far, there are no disc jockeys, just a promised run of “10,000 songs in a row, commercial-free,” with a mix of both current hits and rhythmic gold from the past two decades. The station’s website is found at http://www.hot1037seattle.com/.

Mike Preston, current PD of Country 100.7 The Wolf (KKWF) and prior to that, KBKS-FM 106.1 “KISS,” will take the helm as PD. Preston said to expect an aggressive media campaign in September.

The change ends a 22-year run for The Mountain, which cultivated some of the most loyal listeners in the market, many of whom have made the switch to the online live-streaming and other stations that deliver the independent rock and new artists they came to expect from the Mountain staff. I have to admit I was one of them and recently removed the station from my priority in-dash line-up. The new format is targeting women “who have moved beyond the 18-year-old mindset and grown out of the younger CHR sound as well as the sleepy format of older AC stations.”

Entercom spokesman Jack Hutchison said The Mountain, while off the FM airwaves, will continue to broadcast online at TheMountainSeattle.com and on HD radio at 103.7 HD2. In addition, the company statement encourages listeners who long for the Mountain of old, when Shawn Stewart, John Fisher and Marty Reimer ruled the airwaves, to consider its sister station, 107.7 The End. (Update: Check out Nicole Brodeur’s interview with longtime Mountain DJ John Fisher in The Seattle Times.)

What was unique about, and likely the marketer’s quandary with KMTT AAA format listeners, was that they liked all kinds of music, which included a strong affinity for Jazz, Adult Hits, Classic Rock, Alternative, Hot AC, Variety, Classic Hits, Smooth Jazz, News Talk, Sports Talk, Soft AC and Oldies. So sliding into Classics and then 80s weekends over the past couple years certainly left a lot to be desired. Today, public radio’s alt/indie rock format KEXP-FM (90.3) would likely fill the bill better, as would Entercom’s recommended KNDD-FM and Sandusky Radio’s New Modern Music format KLCK-FM (98.9).

Listeners apparently weren’t the only ones hanging on in the hopes The Mountain would come back around to the AAA format. Several of its current crop of advertisers were mainstays of the old format. According to media measurement firm, Media Monitors, the Mountain pulled in about $2.3 million in revenues since September 2012, with approximately $500,000 attributed to local advertisers.

Top local advertisers this past year averaged ~450 spots per month — a frequency overkill considering the lower turnover rate of the audience. They include:

  • Seattle Symphony
  • Premier Law Group
  • Don Willis Furniture
  • Bellevue Rare Coins/West Seattle Rare Coins
  • Quil Ceda Creek Casino
  • Achten’s Quality Roofing
  • Vision Quest Sport & Fitness
  • Carter Subaru, a long-time sponsor
  • Allure Laser Center & MediSpa
  • American Music

Given the move to a younger female CHR demo, some of these no longer are a good fit (and may not have been before). I gave the station a listen this weekend and it doesn’t sound like it has strayed far from the “18 year-old mindset.”

What do you think? Will Seattle support a Rhythmic Hot AC format? And for former KMTT Mountain AAA format listeners, where have you taken your listening habits?

Update: Hot 103.7 came in #1 for women and #2 for men in the October PPM, according to Edison Research’s Sean Ross. In his analysis of the format and its success here and in Boston he notes “whether there’s a format boom, Boston and Seattle both show that listeners still care about their formative music, even if “now” is exciting.”

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