The Second Single … And the Old Single

As a music fan, and a fan of the business, one of the nice moments in hit music is the release of the second single from a project. The first single is heavily watched, but it’s often the second that determines an artist’s career trajectory. When a developing artist follows the breakthrough hit with the right second single, it always establishes them as someone to be reckoned with, really. Cyndi Lauper has not just “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” but a song for the ages in “Time After Time.” (And “Girls” turned out to be for the ages, too). Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” is a breakthrough, but “Livin’ on a Prayer” is a career song. Sometimes the excitement is a smash followed by an even bigger hit.   Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” and then “Someone Like You.” Katy Perry’s “California...Read More

Party Rock Is In The House Again: Summer Song Week 3

It was weird to look out over the field of Summer Song 2017 contenders and realize that there was no party song. Once the Song of Summer became a phenomenon, part of the calculation in the battle for Summer Song became building in usage. “Party Rock Anthem” had a clear mission statement. “I Gotta Feeling,” by pitching weddings, parties, and bar/bat mitzvahs, guaranteed itself an audience beyond the radio. And reaching people beyond the usual footprint of CHR is part the shared experience that helps a song become the song of summer. Summer songs didn’t have to be about partying like there was no tomorrow—see “Call Me Maybe,” “Blurred Lines,” “Cheerleader.” EDM took on new seriousness of purpose; the Chainsmokers, for all their alleged frat-bro vapidity, were never frivolous again after “Sel...Read More

Alexa: Play Me Some PSAs

Among the one-on-one interviews featured as part of Edison Research’s “The Smart Audio Report,” unveiled yesterday (6/22) at RAIN’s Podcast Business Summit, the most encouraging comment for broadcasters was the one from the Philadelphia man using smart speakers to listen to sports/talk on WPEN (the Fanatic) Philadelphia. “Now that the Alexa radio is connected to the Internet,” he said, “the reception is always great.” I tweeted that one out. Within minutes, reader Richard Horsman (@leedsjourno) tweeted back, “Ha. If only.” And then he added: #ErrorAtLine400 #WindowsHasEncounteredAnError #Loading #StillLoading #ConnectedNoInternet I retweeted that one and added the message, “If smart speakers are putting radio back in the living room, then this is a good time to fix the streaming experience...Read More

Summer Song 2017: Week Two Rocks, Really

Three years ago, I wrote a Summer Song preview suggesting that there was an actual chance that the Song of Summer 2014 might come from the Alternative/Triple-A world. The article was written during the brief span when Kongos, “Come With Me Now” looked like a CHR hit, and when “The Walker” by Fitz & the Tantrums was picking up its first Top 40 spins.  I was wrong but I wasn’t, you know, wrong. Either of those songs would have sounded great as CHR hits, and provided some balance. And if the spotty presence of Alternative crossovers was in any way an issue three years ago, the absence of those songs is acutely felt now, given pop music’s current sonic claustrophobia.  So here we go again. As I write this, Imagine Dragons, one of the bands that seemed trapped in rock radio’s Spin (Doctors)...Read More

Fresh Listen: Radio Disney Country

Two years ago, Radio Disney announced the launch of its Country spinoff. Radio Disney Country launched in early November 2015, tied to the CMA Awards. When we took a First Listen, the online-only station differed from mainstream Country in its support of female artists, especially younger ones, but it wasn’t resolutely young sounding. Radio Disney had a spot on the Los Angeles broadcast dial, and a channel on Sirius XM Radio. Radio Disney Country existed only on the Internet. But it came along at a time when Music Row was more receptive to stories outside the walls of mainstream Country radio. Sirius XM’s The Highway had become important to labels, even if Country FM PDs swore inattention. Then, just as Radio Disney was launching, Spotify stole Highway PD John Marks, and suddenly Spotify p...Read More

Summer Song 2017: It’s Week One, Yeah, It’s Week One

We went on a driving trip on Memorial Day weekend, and if it’s just the ubiquitous current song you’re interested in, that was Zedd & Alessia Cara’s “Stay,” also the No. 1 song in the country at the moment. That made it two in a row for Alessia, following the holiday week trip in December where “Scars to Your Beautiful” was the inescapable song. But it was Bieber vs. Bieber, or DJ Khaled vs. Luis Fonsi that I was clocking. And as it happened, I came across DJ Khaled f/Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne a lot more on this trip. Then, among summer song contenders, Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back.” The two Bieber collaborations are pretty much flush on the Mainstream Top 40 chart this week, but I came across “I’m The One” far more than “Despacito.” So I’m givin...Read More

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

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