So Long to a Local Radio Legend

94.1 KRKX to change formats January 1, 2010.

Connoisseur Media announced today that one of Billings’ heritage rock stations will change formats to country music effective midnight, January 1, 2010. The station,  94.1 KRKX, was known as “Montana’s Home of Rock N’ Roll,” and conducted several familiar annual events including the “Hell On Wheels” giveaway, in which a Harley-Davidson motorcycle was given away to a local listener every year.   Other events / promotions for which KRKX was known were the giving away of several fully restored classic vehicles, including a classic Corvette.  KRKX went on the air in 1994 and faithfully “Rattled the Rims and Rocked the Rockies” ever since.  The station gained a large following during the 90’s and climbed to be a fierce competitor for the number 1 spot in Billings radio, something that continued into the first decade of the 2ooo’s.

The pending format change will not affect the frequency or call letters, and will kick off with 10,000 songs in a row with no commercial interruptions.  The station will be known as “Big Sky Country” and will presumably take aim at KCTR-FM, Cat Country 102.9, the clear country powerhouse in the Billings, MT market.  KCTR has faced many direct competitors over the years; including Thunder Country (now KRZN-FM 96.3), The BAR, and others, but has always maintained its dominance in the market.  This begs the question of how long the new “Big Sky Country” will survive – a question that I am sure Connoisseur Media is anxious to answer.

While I am disappointed to see the end of KRKX as a classic rock station,  I am not surprised about the decision Connoisseur made.  The Classic Rock (or Album Oriented Rock – AOR) format has been steadily losing ground over the last several years as the lines between classic, pop, country and new rock have blurred.  Plus, the Billings market’s exceptionally competitive environment means that only the strong survive.

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