Country music US 99.5 reaches finish line with NASCAR racing
The banner high above the stands at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet said it all: “US 99.5 Chicago’s Racing Station.”
But what started out as a marriage made in radio heaven between Chicago’s country music powerhouse and NASCAR racing has quietly ended in divorce.
On the eve of the Daytona 500 February 20, CBS Radio country WUSN-FM (99.5) has dropped all races from its lineup after six years as the official home of NASCAR-related motorsports.
Listeners were given no explanation for the move. When contacted Thursday, Buddy Scott, program director of US 99.5, called it “simply a business decision,” but declined to elaborate.
As popular as the racing broadcasts had been among some men, it’s clear that ratings took a dive among women between the ages of 25 and 54 — the station’s most heavily courted demographic. In the age of Arbitron’s Portable People Meters, the synergy just wasn’t there.
Since first signing on with Motor Racing Network in February 2005, US 99.5 has incorporated NASCAR into a broad array of programming and promotions, including daily updates and the “NASCAR Rewards Code of the Day” on the air. It also was featured prominently on the station’s website.
When the deal was renewed in 2007, Chicagoland Speedway president Matthew Alexander said: “The solid reputation of US 99.5 combined with their huge listener audience has played an instrumental role in helping to increase the popularity of NASCAR throughout the Chicagoland area. The decision to extend the contract by one of the area’s top radio stations is yet another indication that NASCAR is establishing itself as a premier part of the sports landscape in the Chicago market.”
No word yet on another local radio outlet.