2 Seattle radio stations flip to country music


by Owen R. Smith

Seattle Times

April 3, 2024

Left to right: Hank FM program director Jeff Connell, sales manager Sally Silvi and Lotus Communications President Jim Kalmenson. This week, Star 101.5 became 101.5 Hank FM, a country radio station. (Courtesy of Jim Kalmenson)Less Skip Ad

Country music is having a moment in Seattle — at least according to two Seattle radio stations that flipped their formats to country this week.

Enthusiasm for country music is what drove a decision to flip adult contemporary station Star 101.5 — which had been on the Seattle airwaves since 1994 — to 101.5 Hank FM on Monday, with a focus on a more traditional country sound, according to Lotus Communications President Jim Kalmenson. On that same day, Hubbard Broadcasting switched Seattle adult album alternative radio station KPNW to country station 98.9 The Bull.

“Star FM, which had been a great legacy radio station for years, had really kind of stalled over the years and had been unable to crack through to the higher echelon of listening,” Kalmenson said. “Meanwhile, country music in Seattle has been growing very rapidly.”

Kalmenson pointed out that Audacy’s country-format 100.7 The Wolf is often the top or second-ranked radio station in the Seattle market, trading places with KUOW, Seattle’s National Public Radio station. In February, The Wolf was second with a 7.1 Nielsen rating compared with 7.2 for NPR. Comparatively, last month, KPNW earned a 0.8 rating, while Star 101.5 received a 2.1 rating.

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  1. Star 101.5… yeah Lotus ruined the station starting in 2022 though ratings weren’t the best since the Kent and Alan show could no longer continue. Even the mix got really bad and got odd once December 2022 came along. Moug and Angie in the mornings did not work for overall ratings but Julian didn’t really ruin the station… even though Moug and Angie did for a while. Courine wasn’t ever on the station at this time but if she was the ratings probably would be a little better. Seems like they did try to get ratings up by putting in certain former “Star” personalities but that didn’t really work that well. Kent seemed to actually know how to run the station without Kent it seemed like the station would struggle. They flipped to gold-based Country which seems to be a huge mistake rather than just tweaking the format to include more currents and possibly 80s tunes too to try to compete with both ends of the spectrum. I think this format will have low ratings and Lotus will bring back “Star” and talk about how their listeners were disappointed with the change and possibly bring back the 80s-based shows too like Saturday Night Fever and try to bring things right by bringing back the personalities.


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