If you're OLN (did you know that's the Outdoor Life Network?), you have to do something about that lame name. If you're an NHL Hockey fan, you know about this channel - for everyone else, it's just a forgettable brand name.
That's why they've taken their sports programming into account and have made the switch to Versus. That may not be a home run, but it's a heckuva lot better than OLN. And TV is getting smarter with its brands. Comcast now has a horror film network called Fear, while NBC Universal's mystery channel is called Sleuth. And of course, there's Spike, Animal Planet, The Word (an urban religious/gospel network), and even Noggin' (for pre-schoolers). Much better than TBS or MSNBC.
In radio, it's the same game. Yes, Arbitron loves call letters, but the brands that have staying power and memorability are more interesting and evocative. These days, there's Jack and Free FM. When Lazer/Milwaukee needed a face lift, they went with the more memorable Hog handle. Not everyone loves it, but they sure talk about it.
We learned the power of the brand name for radio many years ago when stations tried to spell Classic Rock with their call letters - KLSX, KSLX, etc. Great idea, but tough to say.
When we hit on The Edge in the late '80s, we began to see the strategy work. The "Kiss" handle has been another franchise for Hit-oriented stations (and one very successful hard rocker in San Antonio).
Throwing a new station on the air with simple call letters isn't just passé - it's difficult in this environment to make a splash and attract attention. This is something that broadcasters ought to give more consideration to when naming HD2 stations.
Conduct a brainstorm, do some web polling, and remember that if all you're going to do is come up with a bland name for a good station, it's going to take that much longer to have an impact. Just ask OLN.