Author: Sean Ross

Once Derided On Stage, Denver Is Now “Forever Country”

It might not have been intentional, but “Forever Country,” the new superstar-laden single and video promoting the fiftieth anniversary of the CMA Awards, wades into a more than forty-year-old dust-up about “what is country” that ensnared the CMA Awards itself. The song that kicks off the classic country medley is John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” That song was only a top 50 Country hit ...Read More

As Industry Gathers, Radio Is Still Negotiating the Audio World

I came out of Radio Show 2013 in Orlando with optimism and many questions. I was excited about broadcasters’ new spirit of candor that didn’t get lost under the usual talking points. There was a group head admitting that radio had a spotload issue. There was Cumulus’ Lew Dickey announcing his deal with Rdio and suddenly declaring that “it’s all audio.” Suddenly the concept of on-demand music was s...Read More

“Perfect” for My Current Mood

“Boy, there’s a lot of controversy about that song,” said the jock backselling Lady Gaga’s “Perfect Illusion” on Monday. Then he added, “It’s really growing on me,” maybe a little too hastily. I loved “Perfect Illusion” after one listen. But if you’re grappling with it, or dismissive, I understand. It’s a harsh lyric and an adamant vocal. It’s yet another Madonna homage. It’s chaotic in plac...Read More

The Market Within A Market

“It’s sure hard to punch around this market.” That’s an industry friend talking about Nashville radio. The fast growing city and home to the upcoming Radio Show 2016 is also growing as a radio market, in a way that many people may not realize. More than 25 years ago, Nashville became one of the first markets where an FM translator was used to do something other than help an FM station extend its c...Read More

Reconsidering Radio’s Worst Summer (Of The Early ‘80s)

The summer of 1979 was pretty great for hit music—the peak of disco, the explosion of new wave crossovers, not much has to be said. Besides, I’d just graduated from high school. The summer of 1980 was pretty good where I was in Washington, D.C., thanks to the battle between WPGC and WRQX (Q107). WPGC hadn’t stopped playing R&B crossovers like many top 40 stations. Q107 leaned pop/rock and was...Read More

What Was Your Song Of The Summer

It was easy for me to call a song of the summer. I was able to choose “Ride” by Twenty One Pilots by late July. At that moment, I could pretty much count on hearing “Ride” on any pop or Alternative station I listened to for any sustained period. If my monitoring of the infinite dial covered six stations in a day, I would hear it six times. And because “Ride” was still going for No. 1 on the CHR ch...Read More

Ross On RadioInsight: This Is How The ‘90s Roll In At Classic Hits

It was the perfect driving song for the end of a road trip. I got in the car at the airport and there was Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.” And it was on WCBS-FM, “New York’s Greatest Hits.” When the song was done, it was cold-segued into “Band on the Run” by Wings. When I got home, I checked NielsenBDS Radio. While it’s sometimes the case that I come across songs after they’ve actually bee...Read More

Ross On RadioInsight: Why We Want “No Scrubs” Again

It’s still one of my favorite stories about hearing a song for the first time. When TLC’s “No Scrubs” landed on my desk in January, 1999, I hailed Billboard R&B chart manager Datu Faison into my office to listen together. We had just gotten past the pre-chorus (“No, I don’t want your number/no, I don’t want to give you mine”) to the first “I don’t want no scrubs.” “It’s a smash,” said Faison, ...Read More

Ross On RadioInsight: Fresh Listen: Chicago’s MeTV-FM

For those of us not in Chicago, WRME-LP (Me-TV-FM) arrived, literally, as an intriguing station. Me-TV-FM didn’t stream its programming, and still doesn’t. Local press reports were nebulous—I couldn’t really translate the station as I heard it described into understandable programming terms. Was it an older oldies station? A supersoft AC along the lines of those in Miami and (at the time) San Dieg...Read More

RossOnRadioInsight: If Currents Matter To AC, Where Are They?

At one time, it was just assumed that Top 40 wasn’t going to pass along much that Adult Contemporary radio could play, ever. For the first half of the ’00s, Top 40 was still in its “Terror Squad and Trapt” era of surprisingly aggressive hip-hop and active rock hits. AC found its currents in unlikely places, from Christian AC act Mercy Me’s “I Can Only Imagine” to “Live Like You Were Dying,” ...Read More

RossOnRadioInsight: First Listen KLIV “Country Gold 1590” San Jose

I’ve always liked “Country 95.3” KRTY San Jose. For the last 25 years, they’ve cheerfully done their own thing, often impervious to bad times elsewhere in the Country format, and regardless of whether there’s a country station in nearby San Francisco. Musically, they’ve always been assertively current, and they’ve always been unapologetically country. KRTY is one of a half-dozen statio...Read More

Ross On RadioInsight: From Kelly To Justin, And Gwen

Are The Acts Who Saved Top 40 Getting A Fair Shot? In the early ‘00s, when Mainstream Top 40 was waiting out its last format doldrums, upstaged by Hip-Hop and Linkin Park, any act with a legitimate uptempo pop hit could grab the format spotlight pretty quickly. It was a big deal if more than one of these artists had hits simultaneously–CHR lived from hit to hit, the indigent friend trying to...Read More

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