World of Bluegrass is over for another year, the Banjostand packed away until next fall. But it has left behind at least one thing for at least a little while, a bluegrass commercial radio station in Raleigh. That’s WFNL, 102.3-FM, which launched on Sept. 26 with a playlist heavy on Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and other old-school bluegrass icons. Bluegrass was originally intended to be a temporary format on WFNL to coincide with World of Bluegrass, but response has been encouraging enough for Curtis Media Group to keep it going long enough to see what kind of ratings come in.
“Why not?” said Curtis spokesman Trip Savery. “We did have a few ads run last week from people who jumped right on it. Ultimately it is about number of listeners and ratings and revenue generated. We should get a good glimpse at ratings in the next few weeks and if we see some traction, we’ll keep it. Every consultant in America would tell you this will never work. But so far, anecdotal evidence is that there’s an itch for bluegrass in this market.”
Bluegrass is inherently a niche format that’s usually heard on public stations, so it’s hard to imagine a bluegrass station really can make a go of it on the commercial side of the dial. But perhaps WFNL will still be on the air as a bluegrass station (maybe even with deejays) by the time the next World of Bluegrass hits Raleigh -- Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, 2015.