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The Format With One Current

There are, effectively, five significant “currents” in Mainstream AC at this or any given moment. Of the current top five, only one, Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” is still considered a current in any other contemporary format. The others — Pink, “What About Us”; Shawn Mendes, “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back”; Chainsmokers & Coldplay’s “Something Jus...Read More

My New Favorite CHR And Other Things I Heard On (Or Around) World Radio Day

Tuesday was World Radio Day—a few days ahead of when I would normally publish a column. And while I could repurpose my recent joke about every day being World Radio Day in “Ross On Radio,” it’s actually the case that I haven’t focused enough on international radio recently. There were reasons. Having access to a world of hit music changed my life t...Read More

A Life of Hearing Differently

By the time I was six, I had already figured out that my taste in music went beyond what was on the radio. My dad worked at WOL Washington, D.C., and it didn’t take long to figure out that some of what he brought home from the music library became a hit, but some of my favorite songs never did. With time, I would come to realize that even some song...Read More

Fresh Listen: Sirius XM – Little Steven’s Underground Garage

Three recent e-mails: “My favorite radio station is Little Steven’s Underground Garage on SiriusXM—rock and soul music you [will] not [hear] anywhere else.” – Michael DesBarres, October, 2017, in response to a column called “My New Favorite Radio Station Is…” “It really is time for you to cover Steven Van Zandt’s Underground Garage. Simply put, we ...Read More

When “Oh Wow” Is Part of the Plan: Fresh Listen: WQKX Sunbury PA

I’ve been writing a lot about radio road trips lately. As a kid, the objective was to hear new songs before they played in my market. Once I better understood radio programming, the goal was also to hear gold titles that you couldn’t hear on New York-area radio. There was no better place for this than Northern Pennsylvania radio, thanks to roughly ...Read More

Classic Soul Is on a Roll

One of the gratifying developments of the last few years has been the return of Classic Soul to the airwaves. The ‘90s Hip-Hop/R&B Throwback stations have had their highly publicized ups and downs. Most of Radio One’s “Old School” stations have evolved back to Urban AC as well, but WOSF (Old School 105.3) Charlotte, N.C., remains a force. And o...Read More

Drinkchronicity II

One of the things you learn doing music research is, no kidding, the power of the drinking song. It’s been a decade or so since the concept of songs aging symmetrically — you will carry only your high school music through life — gave way to more of an “eternal jukebox” of transcendent songs that one might or might not have grown up with. And the et...Read More

My Virtual Road Trip, Part 2

I wanted to re-create the New York to Florida road trips that had been so influential in instilling a love of radio at a young age. I didn’t want to drive them. So I taped radio from Miami to New York and listened to CHR and some Hot AC stations in the order that I would hear them on a real radio road trip. Last week, I made it to Eastern North Car...Read More

12 Station Sign Offs That Defined 2017

  The first big change this year signaled that, even in a PPM world, there was not room for an unlimited number of stations playing Mainstream CHR. It ended with a prominent departure from Throwback Hip-Hop and R&B, capping a year of defections from the format. In between, there were viable stations that nonetheless became affiliates of th...Read More