By Zach Collier
In a comprehensive data aggregation summary published by ValuePengin.com, Provo was ranked the 5th worst city in the US when it comes to radio. ValuePenguin.com is a personal finance website that conducts in-depth research & analysis on a variety of topics from insurance, to credit cards, to everyday spending. Their goal is to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to investing their time and money. ValuePenguin’s research has been published in CNBC, Business Insider, FOX Business, Yahoo! Finance, and Associated Press. ValuePenguin examined 200 US cities, examining them based on data from three categories: Band Rank, Crowd Rank, and the Intangibles Rank before ranking them overall.
Band Rank takes into account the number of full-time musicians per 1,000 people, the hourly median wage for musicians, the number of musical groups per 1,000 people, the number of sound recording studios per 1,000 people, and the number of labels present in the city. Crowd Rank considers the number of Radio Stations per 1,000 People, the number of bars per 1,000 people, the number of musical instrument supply stores per 1,000 people, the number of record stores per 1,000 people, and the performance of the city’s top venues. The Intangibles Rank examines the number of people in the city with music degrees, the suitability of the region’s weather for outdoor festivals, how late bars and restaurants stay open, the number of people using public transportation to commute, and where the city’s universities rank among the nation’s top music schools.
Despite being in the Top 50 Best Cities for Bands and breaking into the Top 100 for The Intangibles (Provo ranked 92), the city placed 183rd out of 200 cities in The Crowd Rank, dragging Provo’s overall ranking down to 100/200. Research showed that Provo is drastically underserving its listeners, particularly when it comes to radio.
ValuePenguin says, “Discovering new songs and artists is an exciting experience for all music fans. Radio has helped cultivate the music scene for years, and access to a wide variety of stations is important for a city. New York and Los Angeles dominate in sheer number with 428 radio stations between them. The list looks a lot different, though, when a city’s population is taken into account.” It should be noted that when population was factored in, New York and LA didn’t make it into the Top 5.
When Reach Provo closely examined the results and did some research of our own, we found that Provo’s radio performance is abysmal. There are only six radio stations licensed to Provo City: X96 (KXRK), 94.9 The Vibe (KENZ), ESPN 960 (KOVO), Classical 89 (KBYU), Key Radio (KEYY), and KSTAR. While X96 initially focused on Top 40 radio in Provo during the 70’s and 80’s, its studios are now located in Salt Lake City, despite its station being licensed to the Provo region. 94.9 The Vibe and ESPN 960 are also licensed to Provo, while their studios are located in Salt Lake. All three of these stations are affiliated with large media conglomerates that typically focus on chart topping singles and conversation points popular throughout the United States.
Of the stations actually running out of Provo, KEYY is a non-Mormon religious talk station. KSTAR is a talk radio station that rarely plays music. When they do, they play Mormon music on Sundays. Classical 89, BYU’s radio station, is the station on the list that gives me the most hope. Here’s why: despite almost exclusively playing classical music, they are at least broadcasting music of some kind around the clock. Additionally, their Highway 89 program occasionally features live, in-studio performances from local musicians. Artists like Foreign Figures, Emily Bea, and Alyssa Pyper have been featured on their program in the past.
We have a serious dilemma in Provo. This dilemma is one local artists are keenly aware of. How are you supposed to launch a successful music career when there is no way for people outside of your immediate circle of friends to hear you in your own town? The radio stations here are doing nothing to broadcast the high volume of tunes being cranked out by Provo’s bands and studios. The only one making an effort is Orem High School Radio (KOHS), which broadcasts at 91.7 FM. Further, apart from the internet and merch tables at shows, there’s no central location for people to explore the sounds of Provo and buy new music. There is one record store in Provo, located at the Provo Towne Centre mall, but it’s certainly not carrying Provo releases.
This study leaves us with more questions than answers. How are we supposed to develop real growth in the Provo music industry? What will it take to get the best of Provo music out of the bubble of the music scene and into the ears of the average citizen?