Think Nashville and most think country music. While it’s true that the market, dubbed “Music City,” is home to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Gaylord Entertainment’s heritage Country station WSM-AM (which airs the Grand Ole Opry, the longest-running radio program in history), Nashville business is far more diverse and growing. The Tennessee capital is also home to Nissan North America, Dell Laptop and the new Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which houses the Nashville Symphony. A new civic center is about to be built. Local media are also looking forward to the 2010 governor’s race, which has begun gearing up for the primary in August.

Growth has moved the TV market up one place in rank to No. 29, with the addition of 50,120 TV households, a 5.2 percent increase. People watch a lot of TV in Nashville, especially local news, which garners 42 rating points combined. Competition among the stations boils down to a horse race between WSMV-TV, Meredith Broadcasting’s NBC affiliate, and WTVF-TV, Landmark Communications’ CBS station. WTVF ranks No. 1 in mornings and late news and, according to BIA, is the clear revenue leader. WSMV ranks No. 1 in early news at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. WKRN, Young Broadcasting’s ABC affiliate, generally places third in the news race.

While revenue isn’t as soft as some markets, media companies are still struggling to overcome economic hurdles. Landmark had been looking to divest its two TV stations and newspaper assets until forced to change its plans in October, when the credit market crunch derailed Bonten Media Group’s financing to buy WTVF.

Even with a more than 63 percent share of the newspaper market, Gannett-owned The Tennessean last summer cut 1,000 positions. In March, the paper formed a content-sharing agreement with the state’s other largest dailies, E.W. Scripps’ Knoxville News-Sentinel and The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, and Wehco Media’s The Chattanooga Times Free Press, which also just had another round of layoffs.

What’s surprising about local radio is not the number of Country stations (there are four, with three ranked among the top 10), but how well Urban and other mainstream stations do. The top-rated station is Clear Channel Radio’s Urban WUBT-FM, followed by sister Top 40 station WRVW-FM. South Central Communications’ Adult Contemporary WJXA-FM ranks third, followed by Cumulus Media’s Urban AC WQQK-FM. WSIX-FM, Clear Channel’s Country station, is No. 5.  

Lamar Advertising is the dominant outdoor operator with bulletins, posters and a digital network. CBS Outdoor also offers bulletins and digital boards.

Vital Stats:

* TV DMA Rank: 29
* Population 2-plus: 2,456,338
* TV Households: 1,016,290
* TV stations (Net/Ind/Multicast/Public): 6/9/0/2
* Wired Cable Households: 543,760
* Radio Metro Rank: 44
* Population 6-plus: 1,237,500
* Radio Stations (rated): 22
* Newspapers (Daily/Weekly): 9/20

The Numbers:

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