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In Search of All-Beatles Radio

Beatles Radio SiriusXM 920 Houston KBTLOf 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 covers channel, punctuated by a few Beatles and solo Beatles songs. Spotify, on the other hand, can offer “the essential tracks, all in one playlist.”

Of the channels that I could find online, some seemed just as random as putting one’s own Beatles collection on shuffle. (Indeed, the biggest Beatles fan I know tells me he has never had any need to search out Beatles radio; he goes to his own collection of bootlegs.) You can say Classic Rock and Classic Hits radio has selected too tiny a handful of enduring songs, but online, you certainly notice when the most trifling Beatles songs of the early years, or the throwaways of the last year play in overly close proximity to each other.

So SiriusXM’s announcement Tuesday (2) that it will debut an artist-sanctioned Beatles Channel on May 18 is welcome news. According to SiriusXM’s release, the offerings will include the entire catalog as well as solo albums and “musicians who have inspired, and drawn inspiration from the Beatles,” which is a wide swath. There are also nearly a dozen specialty programs already announced, including Chris Carter’s “Breakfast With the Beatles.”

I’m looking forward to the new channel. SiriusXM’s Lou Simon-programmed “’60s on 6” has offered a steady supply of pleasant surprises over the past few years, especially as the ‘60s disappear from the radio elsewhere and the notion of “playing the hits” becomes more abstract.

The Beatles Channel also arrives at a time when some Classic Hits stations have pushed so far beyond 1964-70 that you can’t count on hearing even the Beatles on the radio. According to monitors, WCBS-FM New York played the Beatles a total of four times in the last seven days. KRTH (K-Earth 101) Los Angeles didn’t play them at all. Other stations still have a half-dozen or so songs, mostly from the band’s last three years.

Meanwhile, here’s a scan of the all-Beatles services you can hear today. (One channel that I used to listen to regularly, Radionomy’s ABC Beatles, has seemingly been replaced by a wider ‘60s channel.) All songs are by the Beatles unless otherwise noted:

Radio ROKS Beatles Ukraine — One of the better produced and executed Beatles services is this classic rock side channel. (Their others are Queen, AC/DC, and, as makes perfect sense in Eastern Europe, the Scorpions.)

  • Paul McCartney, The World Tonight (which sounded really good after not having heard it for years)
  • If I Fell
  • Hey Jude
  • Drive My Car
  • The Word
  • All You Need Is Love
  • A Taste of Honey
  • I’ll Follow the Sun
  • Your Mother Should Know
  • Love Me Do
  • Yellow Submarine
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Good Day Sunshine

AccuRadio Beatles Plus

  • Things We Said Today
  • Oasis, I Am The Walrus
  • William Shatner, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
  • All I’ve Got To Do
  • George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
  • David Porter, Help (great version, that I discovered in this listen, by the Stax/Volt songwriter)
  • Jim Sturgess & Dana Fuchs, All You Need Is Love
  • Cheap Trick, When I’m Sixty-Four
  • Air Supply, The Long And Winding Road
  • Ringo Starr, It Don’t Come Easy
  • Rosanne Cash, I Don’t Want To Spoil the Party
  • Bettye Lavette, The Word
  • Birthday

Spotify “This Is: The Beatles”

  • Here Comes the Sun
  • Let It Be
  • Hey Jude
  • Twist and Shout
  • Come Together
  • Yesterday
  • I Want To Hold Your Hand
  • Blackbird
  • A Hard Day’s Night
  • Help!
  • Love Me Do
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • Something
  • All You Need Is Love
  • In My Life
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Can’t Buy Me Love

Beatles-A-Rama Hosted and produced online station with voice-tracks that already have a very Sirius XM feel. Also plays ‘60s period radio commercials and offers a merch shop.

  • Ringo Starr, Only You, followed by a WABC New York Beatles jingle
  • Everybody’s Trying to be My Baby
  • Baby, You’re A Rich Man
  • George Harrison, Art of Dying
  • Glass Onion
  • Mr. Moonlight
  • Wings, Maybe I’m Amazed (Live)
  • Beatles, I’ve Got a Feeling
  • John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over” (Demo Version), followed by a drop from WLS Chicago’s Ron Parker (cut when he was still at WCBS-FM)
  • Magical Mystery Tour
  • Please Please Me (Live)
  • Every Little Thing
  • Tremeloes, Here Comes My Baby (set up by a stager about the British Invasion)
  • Birthday

Finally, here’s KYST Houston as “Beatle Radio #9” in fall ’83—about four months into the format:

  • Wings, Silly Love Songs
  • Norwegian Wood
  • Getting Better
  • John Lennon, Cold Turkey
  • Hello, Goodbye
  • Money (That’s What I Want)
  • Ringo Starr, It Don’t Come Easy
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Ticket to Ride (Live, with a stager about reliving Beatlemania)
  • Suzy & the Red Stripes, Seaside Woman
  • I Am the Walrus
  • If I Fell
  • George Harrison, Blow Away
  • Love Me Do
  • Back In the U.S.S.R.
  • I Want To Hold Your Hand
  • Within You Without You

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Sean Ross is author of the Ross on Radio newsletter and VP of music and programming of Edison Research.

4 Comments


  1. There is an all Beatle station in Colorado Springs, KJME “890 Yesterday”, and they have an FM translator. They don’t stream, but there is beatlesradio.com. They even have Beatle news every hour on the hour. It’s a fun listen.


  2. Mrs. F. would have my head if I didn’t mention her deep-cut Beatles specialty show, “Tragical History Tour,” that’s live every Saturday night at 6 PM Eastern from WRFZ-LP here in Rochester, rochesterfreeradio.com. It’s geared for the Beatles fanatics out there.


  3. Here is an all Beatles (and solo) internet station I listen to a lot. I found the channel on TuneIn Radio a few years ago.
    181.FM Beatles:
    http://www.181.fm/player/?station=181-beatles


  4. When KLUV-HD2 first came on the air we did an all-Beatles format – including solo stuff, cover versions, actualities, features, and giveaways. That lasted until 2007 when we changed to “Oldies Radio,” (mostly 60s). Certainly much more traffic now, but the “Fab Format” (we even had t-shirts) was tons of fun.

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