Dan Valler, American Forces Network-Korea chief of network radio, uses a computer that lets him alter programming at AFNK headquarters in Seoul.

Dan Valler, American Forces Network-Korea chief of network radio, uses a computer that lets him alter programming at AFNK headquarters in Seoul. (Jimmy Norris / S&S)

SEOUL — After a month of surveying radio listeners, officials at American Forces Network-Korea have come to two conclusions.

The first: Not everyone likes pop music.

The second: Very few listeners were tuning in the network’s AM station.

Starting Feb. 2, changes to the format on Thunder AM should give those not in love with the latest top 40 hits a reason to tune in, according to AFN officials.

Dan Valler, AFN-K’s chief of network radio, said survey results indicated many listeners wanted to hear more country music, classic rock and talk radio.

AFN-K in November 2007 adopted AFN’s worldwide FM format, changing from music selected by local disc jockeys to that provided by the Lund Corp., which tracks popular music in the United States.

The change removed much of the country and classic rock music from the FM station’s air waves in favor of "Top 40 contemporary music that nobody hates," said AFN-K operations manager Ron Przysucha.

"There are a lot of people who don’t necessarily listen to what we play on FM," Valler said. "We’re trying to provide some counterprogramming to make the AM service a comparable source of information."

While alternative programming has always been available on Thunder AM, it hasn’t always been very accessible, Przysucha said. Those who wanted to listen to country music, for example, could hear it only between midnight and 5 a.m.

"You have your news junkies, your die-hard country music fans — they weren’t being serviced," Przysucha said.

Under the new format, blocks of country music, classic rock, news and sports programs will be available for longer chunks of time more frequently.

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Programming changes

Officials at American ForcesNetwork-Korea are hoping to entice more listeners to the AM station with changes including:Increased program hours — Music will increase from 51 to 57 hours a week.Country — The new format promises a five-hour block of country music in the afternoons and evenings. "Country Saturday Night" will play a seven-hour block of country music. "America’s Country Countdown" will air Saturday nights and will re-air Sunday afternoons.Classic rock — Three- to four-hour blocks of classic rock will air daily, in the early mornings and in mid-afternoon.Sports — Sports programming will increase from 3.5 hours a week to 14.5. Thunder AM will feature programs from Fox Sports Radio and ESPN Radio, including broadcasts of "Mike and Mike in the Morning" five nights a week and a six-hour block of sports talk every Sunday.News — The amount of news programming will increase by 2.5 hours a week and will come from more sources, including CNN, National Public Radio and ABC News.

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