New Format for 97.9 The River Caters to the Forgotten Generation

New Format for 97.9 The River Caters to the Forgotten Generation

Pamela Hall

The Ashland Beacon


Kindred Communications has long been known for bringing great music and programming to the Tri-State through the six radio stations the company has. From New Country Music, Classic Country Music, Adult Contemporary, Rock, and Sports Talk, it seemed all genres were covered…except one, 60’s and 70’s Rock and Roll.

As of December 26, that is no longer the case. 97.9 The River has changed its format to cover that very popular genre, the music of the 60’s and 70’s. “The Greatest Hits of the Rock and Roll Generation” is the station’s new slogan.



Before deciding to change the format, Kindred Communications embarked on a six-month research campaign earlier this year, concerning the age demographics of the area. The results of the research found that nearly half of the population in the Tri-State, 47% percent to be exact, are over the age of 50. This is the generation known as Baby Boomers, and the music that the Baby Boomers love is 60’s and 70’s Rock and Roll.

“When discussing radio with members of the community,” Mike Kirtner, President and CEO of Kindred Communications, stated in a recent press release, “I found the phrase ‘Forgotten Generation’ to be repeated often.  I thought, our company has a way to remedy those feelings.”

So, began the process of changing the format to something that would accommodate the musical interest of about 121,500 people in the metro area of the Tri-State. This important segment of the population has tremendous buying power for those companies that advertise on 97.9 The River. Indeed, the Baby Boomers are the wealthiest generation in the history of the country with a spending power that is unmatched.

Yet, it often seems that mass media has ignored the Boomers when it comes to catering to their musical preferences. Kirtner suggested that the fault lies with those who work in the promotion and mass marketing industry.

“The group that buys advertising tends to be younger,” said Kirtner.  “They are especially young in their careers.  Consequently, they have forgotten where America’s wealth lies. The Boomers have the ability to purchase wants in addition to needs. If they want to travel, purchase a fun car, or even a getaway vacation home, they can.”

Although 97.9 The River has had an adult contemporary music format for the past several years, it has always changed to an all-Christmas music format during the holiday season. Thus, at midnight on Christmas night, the format changed to the ’60s and ’70s Rock and Roll format, with artists such as The Beach Boys, The Cowsills, The Four Tops, Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Monkees, The Beatles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Elton John, The Bee Gees, and many others. It will also have various features such as Motown Monday, Woodstock Wednesday, the 60’s at 6, the 70’s at 7, a Saturday night program with Wolfman Jack, and much more.

As with all of the Kindred Communications stations, 97.9 The River can be accessed online by the app in the App Store, as well as tuning in on the radio. There is also a Facebook page and website,

“As someone that grew up in the area during these decades, this format project became very personal for me,” Kirtner said.      “With 97.9 The River,” he added with a smile, “the Forgotten Generation is Forgotten no more. The Rock and Roll Generation now has a home!”

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