Who plays the most country music?

Both KSOP (FM-104.3/AM-1370) and KKAT (FM-101.9) claim that they play the most songs. For example, KSOP says it plays the "most country music allowed by law," while KKAT counters with milder statements like "continuous country music is our speciality" or "25-song music marathons."According to Broadcast Data Systems, an independent music airplay company in New York City that Billboard Magazine uses, KSOP played 200 more country music songs than KKAT did during the week of Nov. 14-20.

Although KSOP may play more music than KKAT, it doesn't really play the most country music allowed by law.

To do that, it would have zero commercials and air only one station identification per hour as required by the FCC. Otherwise, it would have to be all music to strictly prove that claim. (Of course, no station could stay in business for long with no commercials.)

- As a sidelight, "Country Joe" Flint, KSOP's morning host for the past 22 years, doesn't say much on the air. He plays a lot more music than "The Morning Guys," which may explain why KSOP plays more songs than KKAT.

"Country Joe" has all the basics on his show - news, weather, traffic, song IDs - but would prefer to play music rather than chat. My theory is that because he operates a country music store on the side, he's naturally more music intensive than perhaps any other DJ around.

- John Marks, vice president of operations for KKAT, is disappointed with KSOP's attempts to create a country music war.

Marks said KKAT doesn't want a war and refuses to use a negative, tasteless campaign like he believes KSOP has.

"Ultimately, the listener has to decide," Marks said. "We have the better product."

Marks said KKAT is committed to its music marathons and believes KSOP would be better off focusing on its own station, rather than continually trying to prove who plays the most music and by trying to cut down its competitor.

- A third country music station, KRGO, is now simulcasting on KQOL (FM-106.5). Add this to its three existing frequencies - AM-1550, FM-103.1 and FM-107.9.

KRGO has been referring to itself lately as the best little country music station and also as having the greatest variety of country music on the radio.

- KALL-FM (94.1), a sister station of KKAT, ended its "Louie, Louie" marathon last month, attracting plenty of listener attention with the stunt.

The promotion was designed to get listener help to determine what kind of oldies they really want to hear. Most stations utilize a market research company for such decisions, but KALL, owned by Apollo Radio, took out the middle man and went straight to the listeners to find out what they want to hear.

Officials at several other stations were impressed with the "Louie, Louie" stunt but were surprised the station still used regular advertising during the promotion. They wonder about the long-range affect on these advertisers.

KALL-FM had been using an oldies format via a satellite network. Although the network didn't please KALL's owners, it still ranked 12th among adult listeners (ages 25-54) last summer with a 3.2 percent share, according to the latest Arbitron ratings. Among listeners ages 18-34, it was 15th with a 1.6 audience share.

KALL made the satellite oldies network sound local - one major reason for its success. For most stations, making money with this satellite network would be good enough. But Apollo Radio Co. doesn't think so and will now build a new oldies station based on listener input - from the ground up.

Of course, this means KALL-FM will have to hire DJs and its overhead will go up. It's hard to imagine that KALL's ratings will go up enough to compensate for the increased costs to the station, although a live station will be easier to promote.

Even "Jon and Dan" on KLZX were asking recently on the air why KALL-FM would switch to live DJs when it was already succeeding with a satellite format.

KALL-FM wants quality, and listeners will benefit from this commitment to the public that apparently supersedes profitmaking by the station. Even out-of-work DJs will benefit. You've got to congratulate Apollo Radio on this quality effort.

- KRSP (FM-103.5) - "Hog for the Holidays" is the station's newest promotion. This isn't an event to give away holiday hams but rather a Harley Davidson motorcycle. KRSP is qualifying listeners for a pre-Christmas prize drawing. Listen for the motorcycle sound before calling in.

The cycle will be worth more than $6,000. The waiting time to order a Harley Davidson is 18 months.