This morning marked the launch of Q100. A major battle has began between 107.7 WIVK and Q100 at 100.3 FM. WIVK has been the regional powerhouse with approximately 91,000 watts. For years they dominated the airwaves of Knoxville. Now, Q100 will come in at 100,000 watts and a strong team to boot.
Led by Country Music Radio Hall 0f Famer Mike Hammond, Q100 is already taking giant steps to prove their determination. Possibly the biggest sign that Q100 is serious is that the studio is being labeled on air as “The Cotton Eyed Joe Studio.” This, in my opinion, is huge. Let me explain.
Mike Hammond used to work for WIVK. Everything appeared to be going great. Mike Hammond was the program director of a major radio station. The station promoted concerts, Cotton Eyed Joe, had a perfect Country venue, and the artists and promoters would make good coin. Everybody was winning. Then Mike went to Q93 after he was let go from WIVK.
Q93 did ok in bringing in concert fans to events, however their draw was mainly from Knoxville. Interesting enough, when Jason Michael Carrol performed at CEJ about two years ago I literally walked the parking lot and discovered that about 60-70 percent of the license plates were from outside of Knox County. Now, Hammond and the Q team can once again target that audience and potentially bring in big names that are still close to the fans. Meaning artists that are still signing autographs, shaking hands, and taking pictures. Artists who have a song on the charts, but are not A-list.
This is important. In the Country music world connection with the fans is important. Connecting artists with fans and being the radio station that can do that is critical. It appears Hammond is well on his way to completing this task. Tonight for example, he has Casey James performing a major show at CEJ. If CEJ partners exclusively with Q100 that would literally be a game changer. Think of it as fuel to the fire to increase ratings.
The real question that remains unanswered is ‘who is the on air talent going to be?’ At the press conference today the station stated that they will be announcing new on air talent in the coming weeks. This makes a lot of sense. Since the deal took so long to acquire WNOX and nothing was certified complete it appears that Journal did not want to hire people in advance and if for some crazy reason the deal fell through, they did not want people they looked to hire in a bad situation.
Overall, this is a historic day in Knox County. As a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, I am very excited to see exactly how far Q100 can go. Here at the Focus, we will be monitoring this situation and covering it in depth.
Dan Andrews reporting.