The Texas scene is still buzzing after the recent format tweak to one of the region’s premier radio stations, 95.9 The Ranch out of Ft. Worth. After adding a few more older catalog Nashville country songs, some classic rock and a little Americana, certain fans of the station were up and arms, hoping the station would stick more to its Texas-centric format.
Saving Country Music posted an in-depth analysis of the station’s format after the tweak, and late Tuesday (3-7), the station finally addressed the matter via a formal statement. The Ranch reached out to Saving Country Music and asked if we could also post it. You can find the statement verbatim below.
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Since its launch in 2002, Fort Worth radio station “95.9 The Ranch” has charted its own
path and proven that a radio station can be successful without following the traditional rules of
the radio industry. For example, the Ranch has eschewed the conventional, national chart
driven approach of creating its playlist. The conventional approach is to play mainstream
current hits off the national charts, complemented by select previous hit songs that performed
well in national music research/testing. The Ranch has held the belief that this “one size fits all”
approach is too limiting, and does not allow room for the great music produced by independent
Instead, unlike the vast majority of country radio stations, the Ranch has embraced the
independent artist with its Texas/Red Dirt format and has become known as “The Sound of
Texas.” This bold move has paid off, as Fort Worth and north Texas listeners have shown that
they are hungry for this raw and real style of country music that is so different from the highly
processed type heard on most mainstream stations. And now, thanks to the programming
vision of the Ranch, the phenomenal talent in the Texas/Red Dirt music scene, and the passion
of the fans and listeners who love it, the Ranch has become one of the most successful non
traditional radio stations in the country.
The next natural step for the Ranch is to continue to expand its listener base by playing
the very best music with the gritty, real sound that has resonated so loudly with its listeners. A
little over three years ago, the Ranch team began identifying music outside of the daily playlist
that appealed to core Texas/Red Dirt listeners. The station introduced “Throwback Thursday”,
focusing weekly on old school country songs learning if, and what, other country music listeners
liked. Then “Free for All Fridays”, a weekly wide open playlist to discover if listeners liked music
beyond the confines of country or Texas/Red Dirt. The Ranch team also learned from core
Texas/Red Dirt artists about bands & artists who most influenced their music, and about
contemporary artists who were respected by independent artists. With the two specialty
segments and input from many core Texas/Red Dirt artists, the Ranch programmers began to
see a pattern of songs emerge that complement Texas/Red Dirt music very well. Much of this
music that Ranch listeners love is not technically “Texas Country” or “Red Dirt” (i.e. Chris
Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Will Hoge, Miranda Lambert, and Sean McConnell).
The same is true for music from the icons who influenced today’s Texas/Red Dirt artists (i.e.
Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings). Additionally, there are some artists being
played on mainstream country radio who have very select songs that fit the overall sound of the
Ranch (i.e. Eric Church, the Zac Brown Band, and Gary Allan). Beyond country, the taste of a
Ranch listener often includes older rock songs as well (i.e. ZZ Top, Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles
and Lynyrd Skynyrd).
Because the taste of the Ranch listeners is broader than just Texas/Red Dirt, but
generally does not include the highly processed, lyrically simplistic offerings of mainstream
country, the Ranch has begun to use “Alternative Country” as an umbrella term for the diverse
mix of music about which Ranch listeners have become so passionate. The Ranch has not
“changed formats,” but it has simply freshened its imaging to better describe its current
playlist, as well as added a few more titles that it believes will appeal to its growing listener
Justin Frazell is the Program Director and morning show co-host at the Ranch, and every
week he hosts “Texas Red Dirt Roads,” the most successful syndicated Texas Country/Red Dirt
radio show in the country,. Mr. Frazell has built his career around expanding the reach of
Texas/Red Dirt music, and he was recently asked by the head of the Texas Music Office in
Austin to sit on the board of an exploratory panel to help determine new ways to do just that.
With regard to the updated positioning and new song titles now heard on the Ranch,
Mr. Frazell said, “ For 21 years in the D/FW radio market, I have championed independent artist
and music and have no plans to ever change or stop that. I owe my career to Texas and Red
Dirt Music. We believe that these additions not only better describe our current format, they
will ultimately provide a larger platform with greater exposure for our Texas and Red Dirt
artists. We will continue to be the “Sound of Texas” that Ranch fans love, and we are excited to
attract new listeners to the best locally programmed radio station in the country.”