They were the webcasters most vulnerable to changing performance royalty rates—the boutique stations specializing in ‘60s and ‘70s gold that you didn’t regularly hear on large-market broadcast radio. A year ago, there was legitimate cause for concern about the future of the individual Webcaster. So as we wrap up our look at where to hear the ‘60s on the radio, it’s gratifying that, whatever their travails over the last year, there’s still an incredibly wide array of choices.
Pop Gold Radio — Veteran New Jersey radio personality Don Tandler’s labor of love got the most mentions here, including from Joseph McCombs, Tim Marini, and Rich Appel. Pop Gold’s centerpiece is its Saturday afternoon Time Machine countdown—not just the chart from this day in history but from a different legendary ‘60s or ‘70s station. And on April 1 and 15, Tandler will be doing companion shows to Appel’s “I.R.S. (It Really Shoulda Been A Bigger Hit)” countdown (for which you can vote here.). Meanwhile, PGR just went from Tommy Roe, “Jam Up And Jelly Tight” to Sir Douglas Quartet, “The Rains Came.”
RichBroRadio — It’s a less remembered facet of the legendary top 40 PD and jock’s career, but Rich “Brother” Robbin was one of the first programmers to bring ‘70s gold to FM in any significant way, during a short-lived but awesome incarnation of KCBQ-FM San Diego in the early ‘90s. His online station, though, is about the ‘50s and ‘60s. (It just went from James Brown, “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” to Hank Ballard & Midnighters, “Finger Poppin’ Time.”) “I’m proud to say my constituency is 95% folks over seventy, all the way up to their mid-80s. Thank God I don’t have to sell it on the street to keep going!” Currently playing Spanky & Our Gang, “Sunday Morning.”
WIXY1260Online — A tribute to Cleveland’s legendary top 40 AM of the ‘60s and ‘70s, recommended by Brad Lovett. Currently going from Paul Simon, “Mother And Child Reunion” to Stevie Wonder, “Superstition,” but I’ve also heard a lot deeper stretches with more of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s genres that I like. More importantly, I’ve encountered them hosted twice, including at night.
BossBossRadio.com -– Another Rich Appel recommendation. “Not KHJ, but the ‘Boss 30’ does count down on Wednesday nights as it did in the day. The lineup includes former KHJ Boss Jock Bill Wade along with other West Coast vets such as Raechel Donahue, Insane Darrell Wayne, and Tammy Trujillo. Features both the pop and progressive ‘60s.”
Classic Oldies Jukebox — Recommended by Douglas C. Brown. If I could program a “Real Oldies”-type AM from my own frame of musical reference, it would center on 1965-74 with a lot of the genres (garage, bubblegum, the punchy R&B of the late ‘60s) that didn’t just disappear from Classic Hits FMs, but weren’t necessarily well-represented there in the first place. So I was cheered by hearing the Esquires, “Get On Up” next to Jay & the Techniques, “Keep the Ball Rolling.” Or Buckinghams, “Susan” into Shorty Long, “Function at the Junction” a few songs later.
Carolina Classic Hits -– “It’s very good. Nicely formatted and there’s some clever secret sauce behind it all,” says worldwide radio observer James Cridland who, in an eerie coincidence, posted on my Facebook page on their behalf within seconds of proprietor Rick Freeman. During regular programming, the era isn’t that different from broadcast radio, with ‘70s, ‘80s, and two ‘60s an hour. But there’s “’60s at 6” in the morning and evening. And Carolina Classic Hits was hosted as well when I heard it.
AccuRadio — They continue to find an interesting combination of broadcasting and playlisting. Choosing the ‘60s gets you a suite of 25 channels, including ‘50s/’60s Comedy, ‘60s Broadway, ‘60s Jazz, and even “French Pop, ‘60s and Beyond,” but also Oldies channels focusing on 1964, 1965-67, and 1965-72.
RadioGeorge -– George Woods’ reaction to the Internet royalty issue was to offer playlists, Spotify style, rather than stations per se. And there are a lot of playlists—including one dedicated to songs that were “Bubbling Under the Top 100” and ten playlists devoted to one-hit wonders.
Pandora — Theirs is often the oldies mix that I hear at retail (and the signature song is, oddly enough, the Otis Redding version of “My Girl”). Reader Jason Steiner mentions the various ‘60s stations he’s created on Pandora—soft ‘60s and sunshine pop among them. “I have discovered such obscure but wonderful ‘60s music on there such as Yellow Balloon, ‘How Can I Be Down,’ a band called the Millennium, and a singer from that band who went solo called Michele.”
Top Shelf Oldies -– Most of the stations we’ve spotlighted traffic in hits, just the ones you don’t hear on big-market FM Classic Hits anymore, which gives them a wide swath. Top Shelf Oldies’ slogan is “creating new oldies” and when I tuned in, they did indeed play a great 1970 song I’ve never heard, Eagle, “Kickin’ It Back To You,” from which they went in to ‘90s Country hit, “Past the Point of Rescue” by Hal Ketchum. Recommended by David Thomas and George Green, who is also involved with one of their many specialty shows. Green, a longtime radio and aircheck lover of note, always used to characterize overplayed songs as “burnouts.” More than any other station in the last three weeks, this is a burnout-free zone.
Got Radio — Mark Keene recommends their ‘60s and R&B Classics channel, but they have an entire suite of decades and gold-based genre channels. The ‘60s station is playing “Love Child” as I write, but R&B Classics, when I tuned in, was also playing a song new to me, Carla Thomas, “I Play For Keeps.”
Oldies Radio 1620 -– Dave Schmidt writes, “We started Oldies Radio 1620 York, Pa., about six years ago featuring music from the ‘50’s through the ‘90. Our music mainly consists of music that charted low or even not at all. We’re adding music all the time to our playlist of about 5,000 songs now. We also feature syndicated shows through the week and on the weekends. We try to play the music that the other stations aren’t playing (except maybe WLNG).”
Planet Oldies Radio — By contrast, one of the most hit-driven of the stations featured here. “Please give them a listen,” writes Big Tom Lawler. “Mike Erickson has done a great job with the music mix, as well as the processing and jingles.” And when I heard them, Crystals, “Then He Kissed Me” went into a classic KFWB Los Angeles jingle, followed by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Great Balls Of Fire.” You can also check out Lawler’s “Oldies 100.”
Solid Gold Gem AM — One of two UK online gold stations recommended by Wheeler Conover. “They have a ‘60s Cafe” daily at 7 am Eastern time, including, ‘Ones That Got Away” from the UK charts and ‘Down the Decades’ doing ‘70s, then ‘60s, then ‘50s on Friday nights. There are plenty of jingles. They broadcast only 6 am to midnight UK time. It has a sister station, Serenade Radio, that does EZ listening. Len Groat is the big ‘60s master on this station. Superb stuff, probably one of the best.
Big L — Conover’s other recommendation. “They have countdown shows featuring charts from some of the British and Dutch pirates and ‘Rock n Roll Saturday,’ featuring a Scottish lawyer named Mike Marwick. He’s really, really good and does mostly 60s stuff. He will even let stations in the US broadcast his show for free.” Currently playing “What In The World’s Come Over You” by the Rockin Berries.
Jofox Radio — I haven’t followed them as closely since the Radionomy stations stopped streaming through TuneIn, but I’m glad whenever I search them out. Dutch oldies from the ‘60s and ‘70s with a lot of local hits that, for all I know, might be as easy to hear over there as “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” but I’m guessing they aren’t.