“Scheduling” The Perfect CD Reissue

I’ve come to know Brent James as the dean of the Classic Hits format in Australia. He’s the APD/MD of 4KQ Brisbane, which racks up FM-style numbers on AM. Hit-oriented during the week, 4KQ first got my attention through its feature shows, “Friday Night Fever” (heard Friday morning in U.S. time) with its mix of not just disco but other party songs, and “Jukebox Saturday Night.” For anybody frustrated with the tightness or the newness of Classic Hits in America, “JBSN” is a treasure trove of songs you don’t get to hear on the radio—Australian ‘60s hits but also garage and bubblegum that was a hit in America, but no longer gets played there. And in its time slot, it’s often No. 1 in the market. It’s that same aesthetic that has made James his country’s foremost compiler of CD reissues. Some o...Read More

My New Favorite Oldie Is . . .

I was in San Antonio when I came across the long version of “Scorpio” by Dennis Coffey on the radio. That was followed by the original version of “It’s Gonna Take a Miracle,” made famous by Deniece Williams, but known to me many years earlier as an R&B classic by the Royalettes. If that had been the tone of the radio station I discovered, that would certainly have been deep enough. But those were the most familiar songs I heard on KCJV-LP, which launched about 18 months ago and bills itself as “No Hit Radio” and “The Greatest Songs You’ve Never Heard.” “We play what others don’t know exists,” correctly declared one sweeper. One friend-of-the-station, posting on Facebook, pegs it as playing 150,000 songs. The next morning, I tuned in the station again, this time online. And this is what...Read More

Looking At The Ramifications Of Today’s Three Entercom Divestiture Deals

In a series of three deals involving twenty eight stations in six markets, Entercom today finalized all of its necessary divestitures to complete its merger with CBS Radio. In the process it will completely change the holdings of the big three operators in Boston, consolidate operators in Seattle, bring a new entrant to Sacramento and San Francisco, and add two new markets for Entercom. Let’s go on a market-by-market and cluster-by-cluster look at the impacts of the deals and what happens next. Boston Using the October 2017 PPMs released yesterday, the four big commercial groups (Beasley, CBS Radio, Entercom, and iHeartMedia) combined for 68.7% of all Boston market listening. CBS Radio’s cluster had a 22.7 share, Beasley a 21.0, iHeartMedia 12.9, and Entercom a 12.1 share. Taki...Read More

The Radio Station Of The Future…. Today!

As was long expected, the FCC voted today to eliminate the Main Studio Rule that has been in place since the formation of the agency in 1934. But what will that mean in the short term? Probably not a lot. Early on expect to see some networks like Relevant Radio or Bott Radio Network that has programming originate at a handful of locations but dozens of stations or companies that have clusters in adjacent markets such as Beasley’s three New Jersey operations or companies that have stations in both Baltimore and Washington DC could be consolidated into one building. In the long term be prepared for a much leaner broadcast facility. From talking to engineers who have been preparing for such a move there isn’t much in the way of a consensus on what will happen next. Some of the lar...Read More

What Top 40 Must Do Now

  Maybe it’s not fair to look at Top 40’s numbers during the fall. The time after back-to-school has, traditionally, been a bad time for the format. But have you seen the numbers? It’s been common for a while to look through monthly PPMs and find only a station or two at the top of their market. But crunching just the 6+ PPMs makes the story more explicit. There are only two CHRs that are No. 1 in their market this month: WXKS-FM (Kiss 108) Boston and WNCI Columbus, Ohio. There are two others, KDWB Minneapolis and WRVW (The River) Nashville at No. 2 in their markets. There are only ten CHRs with a five-share or higher. Of those, only five are in a top 25 market. When you look at just the top-rated CHRs in their market, more than 50% of those are somewhere in the 4-5 share range, or be...Read More

Fresh Listen: K-Love

One of the first stations I worked with as a researcher, more than a decade ago, was the iconoclastic Classic Hits format on WKLU Indianapolis. Back when “Classic Hits” was not yet a euphemism for “Oldies,” WKLU was one of the first stations to bend the distinction between the two terms with a wide list that stretched from “Play That Funky Music” to Collective Soul’s “December” to an obscure Stephen Stills song, left over from the station’s unusual “jam band” Triple-A predecessor. After my involvement with them, WKLU went to a more typical Oldies/Classic Hits format. Then, they were sold to the Christian AC network K-Love. And both these things were true: I was happy to see K-Love come to Indianapolis. I was sorry it was on that particular frequency, especially since Indianapolis never got...Read More

Great Second Helpings From “One-Hit Wonders”

Okay, technically it passed on Sept. 25, but, really, every day is “National One-Hit Wonder Day” in Ross On Radio. Also, “National Local Hit Day.” Also, “National ‘Oh-Wow Oldie’ Day.” And “National Songs That Sound Vaguely Like Each Other Day,” too. And now I’m declaring October 12 to be “Worthy Songs That Should Have Given an Artist Their Second Hit Day.” Many “One-Hit Wonders” have their second hit already, of course. Go through any list of “one-hit wonders,” and you’ll see Eddy Grant, A Flock of Seagulls, Quarterflash, John Parr, Animotion and any number of others whose follow-up, or follow-ups, did well enough to disqualify them, even if one song endures more than the others now. (My own chart cut-off point is usually somewhere in the low 20s, but even then, not all No. 28 hits are cre...Read More

First Listen: Mod 102.3 New Haven

So let me be clear, I like Connoisseur’s “Mod 102.3” W272DO/WPLR-HD2 New Haven, Conn.,  which launched last month with a pop-leaning Alternative format that it positions on the air only as “The New Sound of New Haven.” I had tweeted my intended approval of the station’s segue from R&B artist Khalid to “The Man” by the Killers, adding “because once you decide that the Chainsmokers are alternative, keep going.” A few hours later, Keith Dakins, PD of Mod and its Connoisseur/Connecticut rock brethren, tweeted back, “Wait are you making fun?! We never use word alternative on air and remember KROQ in the 80s played Prince, Bob Marley and more.” I tweeted, “No I’m with you. I fought that battle for years. I’m glad you’re doing this.” You can blame any misundersta...Read More

Two Song Mysteries Down, One To Go

Of the three outstanding song mysteries featured in last week’s Ross On Radio column,  I had thought that two of them might remain unanswered forever. Instead, the first song was figured out within minutes; the next one within a day. (A fourth mystery in the column was presented to you already solved.) That leaves just one, from a Ross On Radio reader, that I hope we’ll figure out this week. If you scroll down to the comments in last week’s column, you can see the two correct guesses. But here’s a summation of the two songs we’ve figured out, and the one we’re still waiting on. Mystery No. 1: The Illusion, “Together” This was the one I didn’t expect to get. I was open to the possibility that it might not have been an actual song. Instead, this mystery was solved almost immediately. These w...Read More

What Do Award Winners Sound Like?

  I ought to treat our national radio awards as a “to do” list, a reminder of exemplary stations that I haven’t listened to lately. But there are just enough winners of the NAB’s Radio Awards–twenty of them this year—for the list to be daunting. Besides, they’re handed out when I’m busy at a convention, covering the NAB/RAB Radio Show itself. But this year, I made a point of taking a “Fresh Listen” to as many of the Station of the Year winners as possible. I was listening to hear what made great stations great. I was also listening in hopes of hearing community and sense-of-place—always one of my hallmarks of a truly local radio station. Different broadcast owners participate in industry organizations like NAB with varying amounts of brio. If a station makes it to the Marconi no...Read More

EMF: Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

Some have likened them to Star Trek’s Borg, others to Star Wars’ Galactic Empire. As Educational Media Foundation assimilates radio stations into its collective leaving nothing but a transmitter in its wake many have begun to wonder how they got to this point and how to stop them. To look at how EMF has gotten to this point you have to first look back to where they came from. What would become the national “K-Love” brand started out in Middletown/Santa Rosa CA in 1982 as “FM 92 KCLB“. The K-Love brand and new KLVR call letters would come in 1988 as would translators expanding the station’s coverage to other markets surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area such as Monterey and San Jose. Expansion to other markets would begin in the middle of the 1990s...Read More

Four More Mystery Songs To Uncover

I suspected my column on the mystery songs that I’d accumulated over my life as a music lover and record collector would be only of interest to a certain strata of music geek. So for every likely “hoo, boy!” likely generated by the topic, it was gratifying to see how many readers it did resonate with. Of course, other readers sent me the stories of the songs they needed years to untangle, or never figured out. Then, upon further reflection, I realized I still had a few more songs I was trying to hunt down as well. So here are four more, only one of which has actually been solved. The One I’m Solving for “A Friend” In the very early ‘70s, there were still some places that would sell you a bag of ten mystery singles for a dollar. This one, which I’m pretty sure I got on a visit to New York, ...Read More