Since April of 2004, the radio format known as "Jack" has been officially adopted by 16 stations in the United States, and many others display traits that are Jack-like.
The format involves large playlists drawn from the last 30 years of hits, bizarre juxtapositions of songs and little or no news, weather or D.J. presence.
Stations that switch to the Jack template tend to see a rise in listening audience. But a new study by Arbitron and Edison Media Research suggests that these larger audience sizes may be counterbalanced by lower tune-in durations per listener. The study looked at the United States' eight longest-running Jack-format stations.
"What this really means is that people are sampling it and not staying," said Robert Unmacht, a radio consultant with iN3 Partners, a communications consultancy based in Nashville. "Radio is made up of three things: entertainment, information and companionship. Jack's missing two out of three."
Sean Ross, vice president of music and programming for Edison Media Research, said that the Jack format could remain successful, citing a precedent for thriving stations with large but inconstant audiences. ALEX MINDLIN