Blogs

Handicapping The Song Of Summer 2017: Who’s The One?

Seen one way, the Summer Song 2017 race is starting off as Bieber vs. Bieber. That’s hardly surprising, since Bieber has been competing with himself via features and multiple singles from his own projects for nearly two years. And there’s a reported collaboration with David Guetta on the way. And much of Bieber’s competition is from the former teen-idol ranks as well, including Selena Gomez. But if you go by the lead artists, the battle between “I’m The One” and “Despacito” is DJ Khaled (f/Bieber, Quavo, Chance the  Rapper and Lil Wayne) vs. Luis Fonsi (with Daddy Yankee and Bieber), which is awesome. Khaled, who came to prominence as a personality on WEDR Miami, has been the DJ/impresario behind a string of R&B and Rhythmic hits for more than a decade. Fonsi has been successful at Spa...Read More

Summer in a Dangerous Time

Last July, on the morning after the killing of five Dallas police officers, a Facebook friend asked if “Ride” by Twenty One Pilots, with its verse asking “who would you kill for/who would you die for?,” needed to come off the radio, or at least be edited. In the moment, many commenters agreed that it did, with some comparing it to the increasingly problematic “Pumped Up Kicks.” But “Ride” was earnest, not cynical. It not only stayed on the radio, but remained unavoidable throughout the summer. In that song’s vow to forgive oneself and others, I found a soundtrack for the tragedy and anxiety of summer 2016; anxiety that many people felt, no matter what brought them there. Before July was over, I had found the song that defined last summer for me.  Choosing “Ride” resonated with a few reader...Read More

Fresh Listen: KDAY, Power 106, Real 92.3 Los Angeles

Throughout its history on AM and FM, KDAY Los Angeles has been both venerable and vulnerable. The original 1580 KDAY may have been a key proponent of West Coast hip-hop, but it went away in 1991, thwarted by the issues of being a music station on AM, especially one sometimes more easily heard in Hawaii at night than in parts of its own market. KDAY’s departure helped propel the segue of rival KPWR (Power 106) from dance to the Hip-Hop powerhouse that it became for 25 years. 93.5 KDAY Los Angeles, the FM station that revived the calls and introduced the Classic Hip-Hop format in 2004, posted modest initial ratings and would itself drift through Rhythmic Top 40, Urban, and even Urban AC. It was headed for a sale to new owners and a format change to Spanish but that deal fell through; Meruelo...Read More

What’s The Job?

A recent look at industry job postings shows a trend that has been going on for quite some time is accelerating. On-air personalities are now “content specialists” at Townsquare. Many General Managers are now Market Presidents. And who doesn’t have a Vice President or Senior Vice President title in management? Why does the receptionist have a “Director of First Impressions” title in operations that are tucked away in an office park where there may be a handful of employees pulling multiple jobs and the only daily visitors are the mailman and FedEx driver? That first impression is one that nobody will ever see. A Digital Program Director at some operations has full oversight of the cluster’s web, social media and streaming operations. At some its simply t...Read More

Looking At The KPWR Deal

Alex Meruelo saved Jeff Smulyan and Emmis Communications. Mere weeks after Smulyan had to amend Emmis Communications’ credit agreements by agreeing to sell $80 million worth of assets by January 2018, Meruelo agrees to pay nearly that exact amount for “Power 106” KPWR Los Angeles. Most of the people I’ve spoken to today figure the conversation went something like this: Meruelo: You need to cut $80 million. We’ll give you that for KPWR. Smulyan: Pay $2.75 million for filing and legal fees too. Meruelo: Done deal. By selling KPWR, Emmis doesn’t have to look at selling clusters in multiple markets where there are additional cost savings by running multiple stations and gets out from a station that has been severely challenged by the launch of iHeartMedia...Read More

Review: “I Am What I Play”

For those outside the business, “I Am What I Play,” documentarian Roger King’s look at the careers of four legendary DJs, will be a new window into a bygone era–the heroic announcer who influenced music and even the culture around them. It will bring some viewers to a place they can only regard anthropologically—that time “when radio mattered” that they’ve only heard about. Industry readers will find something different in “I Am What I Play,” which takes its title from David Bowie’s “DJ”: almost instant recognition. The first story is legendary CFNY Toronto PD/jock David Marsden deciding at age 12 that he wants to be on the air, making his parents nervous. Within the first fifteen minutes of the documentary, there have been two firings—both of PDs/jocks who don’t want to switch their...Read More

In Search of All-Beatles Radio

Of all the formats made for an infinite radio dial, an all-Beatles format ought to be perfect. The first one dates back to the waning days of music on AM, consultant Todd Wallace’s “Beatleradio No. 9” (it was AM 920) on suburban Houston’s KYST. On a rimshot signal in a single market, all-Beatles wasn’t an AM panacea, but it seemed like the sort of thing that would find a few listeners in any place nationwide. And heard today, it still sounds pretty good. But when I went looking for an all-Beatles station a while back—a request from my 14-year-old daughter—they weren’t easy to find. The regulations that govern internet radio in the U.S.—meant to head off the on-demand options that arrived anyway—effectively prohibit single-artist services. AccuRadio’s Beatles Plus is essentially a Beatles c...Read More

Fresh Listen: Chris Country

Country radio in the U.K., when it existed, tended to be an odd mix of traditional Country with what would come to be known as Americana, and occasionally a song or two that Americans would never think of as Country. In the same way that it takes experimenting rockers like Kid Rock or Aaron Lewis to bring a traditional-leaning song to Country radio, it took Europeans to try and keep it Country on the radio. U.K. Country was a rootsy, almost fetishized version of Country. As with the AC-leaning Country radio in the Northeast U.S., it was believed that this was what Country radio had to do to survive. Except that Country didn’t always survive in the Northeast, or on the U.K. dial. Country in the Northeast U.S. these days is often as contemporary and as aggressive as anywhere else. And on Chr...Read More

Fresh Listen: Revolution 93.5 Miami

It’s better now, but there was a period, several years ago, where South Florida radio was losing the one thing you could generally count on it for—sense of place. Miami radio was often deliberately low-key presentationally; the excitement came from hearing a lot of new music, a lot of local hits, and, yes, dance music. And for a minute, South Florida radio felt to me like being in any other market. But WPOW (Power 96) is playing Latin crossovers again. WMXJ (the Beach) plays “Rapper’s Delight,” the only Classic Hits station where you can hear that song in significant rotation. WHQT (Hot 105) has been playing one song after another that I recognize as a hit, but not that I’m used to hearing on the Urban AC safe list. And, yes, there’s dance music on the radio again WZFL (Revolution 93.5) is...Read More

WIXX Green Bay Celebrates Forty Years: Throwback Listen, 1984 . . . Fresh Listen, Now

I don’t have any tape of WIXX Green Bay, Wis., as Top 40 “Rock 101” in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. I didn’t need to. I could hear WIQB (Rock 103) Ann Arbor, Mich., which was briefly, and less successfully, running the same TM Stereo Rock automated format. Stereo Rock, widespread in that era, was the least hip distillation of the format, and it was readily identifiable whenever one came upon it in their radio travels with its perfectly cadenced backsells (essentially today’s AC song tags). I once heard WIQB segue from Aerosmith’s “Draw the Line” (on its nighttime reel of AOR songs) to Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” I once heard affiliate WSTW Wilmington, Del., play “Nothing Ever Goes As Planned” by Styx, the only time I ever heard that song on the radio. ...Read More

When Not to Like Music; When to Like It Again

I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to like “You Light Up My Life.” When I first encountered Debby Boone’s soon-to-be hit in the late summer of 1977, it was just sort of moody and interesting. It was of a piece with the similarly earnest “Just Remember I Love You” by Firefall or “Sometimes When We Touch” by Dan Hill, and any of the other unavoidable MOR/pop of that era. There was also some excitement in seeing it break quickly — No. 1 in Houston in about three weeks’ time, then exploding everywhere else. Also, “You Light Up My Life,” the movie that accompanied it, was a nice little sleeper with some moments of genuine insight into the advertising business. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to like Barry Manilow. “Mandy” was also just another pop ballad, and one of the jocks in my seventh-grade c...Read More

Def Leppard and EDM at Adult Contemporary, Beyoncé at CHR: A Dialogue With Matt DelSignore

“Hi, Sean! A few radio-related items have been on my mind, so I thought I’d send them along to get your take. Maybe fodder for future columns?” So began the e-mail from reader Matt DelSignore. I came to know Matt as a reporter for the former all-news station WNEW Washington, D.C., when it became clear he followed music radio as closely as anybody on this side of the business. And some of the things that he’s observed lately are, indeed, worth discussing at greater length. So I decided to take the dialogue public, beginning with: Topic I – Where Is Beyoncé At CHR? Matt: I was really glad to see an industry publication [Billboard] tackle this question re: Beyoncé and [the lack of airplay for the “Lemonade” album at] pop radio. Last summer, it struck me how CHRs excitedly touted their B...Read More

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