Houston Needs a Real Country Station, Not More Bull

George Strait 0111.jpg
Photo by Marc Brubaker
If someone has seen the rest of George Strait, please tell him he is needed back at KILT immediately.
Somewhere in college, those of us arts and humanities types who were passionate about music, but knew we were not talented enough to perform it professionally, eventually wandered into the journalism school or the student radio station. Everyone else must have wound up in a marketing classroom.

Rewind:

Houston FM Country Powerhouse KILT Rebrands Itself "The Bull"


That scenario is as good a thumbnail as any to explain what happened Thursday afternoon, when Houston's No. 2-rated country FM station, 100.3 KILT, rebranded itself from the ambiguous "real country variety" to the even more ambiguous but oh-so-masculine "The Bull."

It's almost too easy, really. Rocks Off tuned into The Bull all Friday morning, and one of its self-touting commercials (known in the biz as a "bumper") announced the station as "the new bull." Irony really is dead.

Aldean 0111.JPG
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
KILT hopes its listeners really, really, really like to "party" with Jason Aldean.
When another bumper announced that The Bull was "Jason Aldean's kind of party station," I hated The Bull immediately. Jason Aldean works my last nerve. Even if I did party -- and I used to party all the time -- I don't think I'd want to party with him.

Evidently this "Bull" is a new kind of format spreading across country radio, with the dubious catchphrase "less twang, more bang." Supposedly Bull country -- see, the jokes write themselves -- is going for a "grittier, more rock-oriented pop-country vibe."

First of all, any country station that thinks "less twang" is something to be proud of needs to be avoided right away. But this is the way people with marketing degrees actually think and talk about music. Everything must be researched and demographiced down to the last market share, and results in maneuvers like Thursday's rebranding. "More twang" would skew "too rural," you see.

This immediately makes me think about the old saying about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, which is probably lost on today's marketing grads, because nobody rearranged any chairs in the 1998 Leo DiCaprio movie.

Because the music, mind you, is more or less the same as the old KILT. But branding itself after one of the most masculine representatives of the entire animal kingdom does not speak well of what The Bull must think of its lady listenership. This morning it's played Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and two songs by Little Big Town, which is half female. Oh, and Lady Antebellum (one-third female).

But other than that, it's been lots of bros going on about trucks and beer, which not by coincidence is probably almost all you'll be hearing about when KILT starts playing commercials again Monday morning. The "new" is true anyway; all morning, I didn't hear anything older than Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying."

Much more grievously, this morning KILT went for hours and hours and hours without playing a George Strait song, which should be unconscionable for a commercial country station in Houston. Same goes for any of Strait's fellow Texans, although surely Eli Young Band will be along eventually.

Imagine something like The Arrow rebranding itself "A Different Kind of Classic Rock" and playing the same tired shit it has been for however many years, because all it did was roll out a new logo and made some new T-shirts, and cut a bunch of new promo "bumpers." How much sense does that make to you?

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29 comments
WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning topcommenter

Texas Mix 105 is a decent station at times. At other times it panders to that ball cap nation yeehaw beer taco crowd. About one song in three has some actual artistic value, the rest is just the usual Best in Texas magazine chart dreck. That's what sponsors like Shiner Bock and Miller Lite want to hear. That and the so-called New Country, which is the worst abomination on mankind since the bubonic plague. Along with this year's rodeo lineup, which has about as much to do with country music as Lady Gaga's wardrobe has to do with taste and class.

mrbillpro
mrbillpro

Jacob, lets see you sells the most tickets at the rodeo this year, that should tell you who/what is the most popular in Texas music, watch out it might be "OLD" George. They should call the new country stuff  "PUNK COUNTRY". :)

JacobD
JacobD

You are just old. Let the new thrive and go back to your George Strait Cds.

dustin.kalman
dustin.kalman

The Bull is about as bad of a brand as The New 93Q, which has had that name for around 10 years or more. Not very new.

Manilo
Manilo

Houston needs a Jazz station. Easy listening music is sometimes very needed. A good newspaper is also needed. http://x.co/rqVf

stephanie.said
stephanie.said

Try Texas Mix 105.3, better that the others at this point...

KD Davis
KD Davis

Houston needs real radio period

Priscilla-Keri Woozales
Priscilla-Keri Woozales

@NoisePodium Records...90.1 is not the only classic country in Houston. Tune in to 97.1 (Country Legends).

Alli Outlaw
Alli Outlaw

I have to listen to 93Q all day at work. It's horrible. I use my phone to listen to my own country or spotify for a good mix. I only listen to KILT when I want to listen to the game while working.

Kris Friddell
Kris Friddell

105.3 out of Hempstead,Tx is the best Texas country station in the area!

NoisePodium Records
NoisePodium Records

90.1 is the only station that plays actual country and Texas music in Houston at this point. Tune in folks!

Louanne Harvey Cantrell
Louanne Harvey Cantrell

I am from houston and visiting kids this week and couldn't find a single station worth a hoot.....san antone has this classic texas country station that rocks....what's wrong Aitchtown???

mrbillpro
mrbillpro

Real Country died with Keith Whitley and Gary Stewart.

massmurdermedia
massmurdermedia

"less twang" reminds me of my mother's initial reaction to rap back in the 80's:  "they're not even singing!"...

Keith Urban's stylist is everything you need to know about the state of country music today...  

Jimi Austin
Jimi Austin

There is a classic country station thats pretty good. 97 fm I believe.

WhiteLightnin
WhiteLightnin

Back in the day, KILT tried having a "Texas music" show on Sunday nights. It was nice of them to try, but they dumbed that shit down so quick -- Roger Creager followed by Kevin Fowler followed by, hey, Roger Creager -- that it became a joke. Last radio station in town that actually had a decent mix was 103.7. Bullseye on the Bull. What a tragic joke for a town that used to be a place where legit country music was everywhere. MORE JOHNNY BUSH, Fuckers.

thraeryn
thraeryn

"Listening to FM radio" seems like the downside of being a music reporter/blogger.

Anse
Anse

"Bull" country, like "Texas" country, tends to be about 1)drinkin Lone Star with my buddies 2) lovin' America 3)drinkin whiskey with my buddies 4)how tough America is 5) drinkin Coronas with my buddies 6) lovin how tough and awesome America is.

Lady Antebellum is the music equivelent of a plain rice cake.

Robert Medlin
Robert Medlin

The Lone Star Jukebox on KPFT Saturday mornings is about as good as it gets.

csmithgonzalez
csmithgonzalez

I don't listen to Houston radio. I just plug my phone in and listen to either pandora or the app for KNBT 92.1 out of New Braunfels. 

kcothroll
kcothroll

97.1 is the best Houston has. I get my real country from XM.

Booger Boogerson
Booger Boogerson

a comment on your cool fictional Radio station, an Odessa TX radio station tried doing that about twenty years ago, The problem it ran into, was the Country DJ's and Rock DJ's didnt know how to mix the songs well. I actually talked to the GM on the phone about it. I suggested he try hiring wedding DJ's, since they have to make those type of mixes all the time. This was before MP3 and laptop mixes. Because of the shitty mixes, The country people tuned out because they weren't playing george strait, and the rock folk tuned out because they weren't playing ZZ Top.

Anse
Anse

It says a lot about today's "country" music when Merle Haggard has to sign with Epitaph to put out a record...Epitaph is a punk/metal record label for crying out loud. Johnny Cash did his last albums with Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam--a hip hop label. Loretta Lynn's last real album was Van Lear Rose, produced by Jack White, of all people. Not that we need more albums from these legends, but it's sad that the punks and the indie rockers appreciate the real thing more than Nashville these days.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning topcommenter

@Jimi Austin if you like the same 60 songs played endlessly. it really is just mediocre compared to country radio here in the past.

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