Author: Sean Ross

When CHR Wins, Despite the Music

They are positive stories for CHR at a time when CHR needs positive stories. WJFX (Hot 107.9) Fort Wayne, Ind., rebounds sharply and goes No. 1, among published stations in the market, up 4.8–8.2. WDDJ (Electric 96.9) Paducah, Ky., is up 18.3–23.4, second only to its sister Country station, WKYQ. (That’s the usual hierarchy in the market, but sometimes WDDJ has only a 16 share.) Both WJFX PD Robbi...[Read More]

First Listen: Cities 97.1 Minneapolis

For roughly twenty years, basically as long as there’s been Modern AC, “Cities 97” KTCZ Minneapolis has been darting back and forth around the place where that format and Triple-A converge. About five years ago, it landed in a place I really liked, finding the songs in Triple-A that deserved to cross to pop, playing them in aggressive rotations, and interspersing a few songs from Pink ...[Read More]

Handicapping the Summer Song of 1979 (And Today)

I have place memories for a lot of songs, and I definitely have one for “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor Doctor)” by Robert Palmer. It was the summer after senior year — probably right around this time. My high-school buddy Matt and I were driving back to Washington, D.C., from Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., exciting not just for the amusement park but because I was 16 and they were still lax ...[Read More]

Fresh Listen: WKIC Hazard KY

I don’t know if today’s 15-year-old music geek needs a station like 97.9 WKIC Hazard KY. That would imply they were listening to the radio and waiting around to hear songs not normally heard on the radio. My options for that in 1978 were hanging out at the record stores that let you audition singles or hoping that a radio friend would let me go through their pile of junk 45s. Would a “Tomorrow’s H...[Read More]

First Listen: Right Now Music Radio

What would it sound like if CHR really knew how to respond to streaming? Would it be the thing that repatriates young adult listening? Or just proves that Top 40 radio can’t be Spotify (and perhaps shouldn’t)? Would it pull the format out of the doldrums? Or plunge it further into the extremes? (Or is that ex-streams?) Trying to make sense of streaming stories now is like the early ‘90s when the a...[Read More]

Sherwood Ross (1933-2018)

At age 4, my father made a tape of me with his handheld cassette recorder asking what I wanted to be when I grew up. The answer was a radio station’s music director (or maybe, at that age, it was “the person who chooses the records”). My father, Sherwood Ross, was public affairs director for Sonderling, the company that owned legendary R&B stations like WDIA Memphis, WWRL New York, and his hom...[Read More]

Constructing The Next Decades of Classic Hits

There was genuine excitement last week when I reported that Classic Hits KOLA Riverside, Calif., was filtering in titles from the early 2000s. KOLA had been aggressive, and successful, by forging into the ‘90s ahead of most stations. When I reported that they were on the move again, some readers thanked me for telling them about the station. Cumulus VP of programming Brian Thomas called my attenti...[Read More]

Bring Back for What?

For a long time, I regarded the act of holding on to a current title after its chart run as an act of independence on a par with going “off the menu” and adding a new song not being promoted by a label. Keeping a proven hit in power might not have displayed the same enterprise as finding a new hit. But both decisions represented a willingness to curate a distinctive station and put the audience fi...[Read More]

Fresh Listen: KOLA Riverside In The New Millennium

It wasn’t that long ago that 99.9 KOLA-FM Riverside, Calif., was provocative among Classic Hits stations for its forays into the ‘90s. Other stations were planted in the mid-‘70s through late ‘80s, occasionally crossing the date line for an early ‘90s song with a throwback feel—Spin Doctors, Black Crowes, Michael Jackson, “Black or White.” KOLA pushed further, both in terms of era and texture, int...[Read More]

Handicapping The Summer Song of 2018

  For Top 40 radio, there’s a lot riding on the Summer Song of 2018 candidates. The mother/daughter coalition is beyond frayed. Tempo is negligible (I heard a major-market CHR segue this week from Post Malone, “Rockstar,” to Max, “Lights Down Low”). April PPM ratings were dismaying even for some stations that had withstood the format downturn. The format needs its moment in the sun. So make i...[Read More]

First Listen: The Brand

Before there was “Hot Country” or “New Country,” there was the Country battle in Houston. Through the ‘80s and early ‘90s, KILT-FM (FM100) under consultant Ed Shane and rival KIKK-FM were mainstream musically (at least as I now remember them), but had an extra level of presentational gloss and energy that made them the brightest sounding stations of their era, until rival KKBQ (93Q Country) and so...[Read More]

Twenty (Or So) (Mostly) Great Songs That Were a Hit on One Station

A few nights ago, “Bania U Cygana” by Zero came up in my workout playlist. “Bania U Cygana” was a Polish-language dance record that became a signature record for WKIE (Energy 92.7) Chicago during its brief tenure as a dance station in the early ‘00s. It never spread to crosstown WBBM-FM (B96), whose version of Rhythmic Top 40 was more Hip-Hop and R&B in those days. There were a handful of othe...[Read More]