Author: Sean Ross

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 twenty years ago, but over the last decade, release...Read More

First Listen: “Z62” WZON Bangor, Maine

I’ve been in a lot of Facebook and e-mail group discussions about KQV Pittsburgh. A month after going dark, KQV has been sold and will likely return to the air, but from a new transmitter site, which will make it essentially a suburban AM in its own market. That led to a recent group discussion about how few AMs have the footprint within a sprawling market to be anything more than a rimshotter. Th...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 songs that were hits at the time would maintain a diff...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 play music that you cannot hear anywhere else—from...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 a handful of stations heard on I-80 between the De...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 over the last year, Radio One has rolled out ‘60s-a...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 eternal jukebox is often driven by those songs actua...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 Carolina at the end of “Day 1.” I was looking for the...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 the Christian AC K-Love network. In other words, the...Read More

The Lost 45s Never Surrender: The Top 100 of 2017

There are three former countdown chart-toppers that listeners to Barry Scott’s “The Lost 45s” don’t even vote for anymore, all from a five year stretch in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s: Abba, “Dancing Queen”; Rupert Holmes, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”; and Rick Springfield, “Jessie’s Girl.” With the passage of time, those songs all became staples at AC, then Classic Hits and/or Adult Hits stations....Read More

My Top 100 (Or Thereabouts) Of 2017

It’s been a while since I had the time, or perhaps the enthusiasm, to put together a top 100 list for the year. But each time I write about “The Songs That Made a Difference” at radio, some people take it as a year-end list. And this year, I was particularly curious whether I could manage 100 titles. There have been years (I remember 1980 particularly) where bad music on the radio didn’t necessari...Read More