As a country-music loving transplant to New York, I was shocked that this town that claims to offer something for everyone lacked a dedicated station for the number one genre of music in the country. Well, no longer!  It took seventeen long years, but country radio is back in New York! Granted, NYC might not seem like the most logical market for a country music station, but there is a strong and mighty group of passionate fans that have been clamoring for country. Country stars easily sell out concert venues both big and small throughout the city, and it was time for radio to take a chance on country in the city.

NashFm 94.7, launched by radio giant Cumulus, is a gamble on the New York market, and on the fact that country music has become more mainstream. The country stars heard most on the radio today, including Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, have significant crossover appeal and are pushing the boundaries of country to expand beyond traditional twang.

The reintroduction of country radio to NYC doesn’t only prove the strong fan base in New York; it symbolizes the broad appeal of the genre across the country, not just in the south. And despite the perception that country music belongs in Nashville, not the Big Apple, country album sales grew more than 4% last year, more than any other music genre, and New York, given its dense population, is the top market for country album sales.*

Brands too have begun to embrace the power of country music and its stars. Country has an expansive and lucrative fan base, and these consumers are a prime target for advertisers. Keith Urban joins the judges this season on American Idol and Blake Shelton has been catapulted to national fame as a coach on The Voice. Diet Coke recently signed a multi-year deal with country darling Taylor Swift and the partnership has already rallied her enthusiastic fans on behalf of the brand.

NashFM is the first step in Cumulus’ plan to create a national lifestyle brand with multiple media outlets and an expansive reach. The New York radio station doesn’t have advertisers yet, but it is an opportunity for brands to connect with this audience. The country music scene is changing, becoming less pigeon-holed, and more accepted. Happy listening, yall!

*WSJ.com, New York Gets a Little Country