Author: Sean Ross

For All of Us, Lots of Mel Tillis to Discover

Enjoying Country radio literally began for me with Mel Tillis. When I was little, there’d been a babysitter who played WPIK Washington, D.C., instead of the R&B and Top 40 stations I liked, but I remember everything as sounding sad and slow.  Then, at age 12, my dad, who usually had little interest in contemporary music, was turned on to WHN New York by a friend. And the first song I remember ...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 w...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....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 Steph...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 ...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 a...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 yo...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 “F...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...Read More

First Listen: WPNA-FM (103.1 FM) Chicago 

When WKIE Chicago was dance-formatted Energy 92.7 in the early 2000s, my favorite record that then-PD Chris Shebel played was Zero’s “Bania U Cygana,” a pounding, high-energy Polish-language dance hit. Because, of course, that was what you should play in Chicago. In my ongoing quest for local hits and oddities, I kept hoping that Chicago’s major Polish community would make “Bania U Cygana” so popu...Read More

Why Don’t You Tell Me ‘Bout the Mystery Song?

Even as a lifelong record collector, it’s been a long time since I had a formal “want list.” The last one was exhausted close to 15 years ago, just as both used record stores and my willingness to deal with them were both starting to wind down. The obscure oldies that catch my interest now can almost always be bought, or at least streamed, somewhere online. Soundhound and Shazam help me identify t...Read More

Your Summer Song And My Summer Song

It’s interesting that I’m still getting e-mails, tweets, and other communications from readers asking me when I’m going to name my Song of the Summer. Maybe, in their busy lives, they missed that moment where I knowingly went entirely off the grid and gave it to “Praying” by Kesha. Maybe it’s their way of saying “for real, though.” I’ve been ready for the last month to write the column acknowledgi...Read More