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

87.7 WRME-LP Chicago MeTV MeTVFMFor 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 Diego? AM-style MOR? It couldn’t really be all those things?

When I finally heard Me-TV-FM, it was, of course, all of those things. There were the sort of ‘60s oldies that had disappeared from most of today’s Classic/Greatest Hits stations. There were ‘70s pop songs far softer than anything played in WFEZ (Easy 93) Miami or the former KIFM San Diego. The new station also had an “oh wow” factor that went far beyond those stations and cheerfully into the territory of “songs that don’t test.”

Me-TV-FM’s intrigue was also because it wasn’t listed in the published ratings for a while. You could tell it was having an impact on the battle between WLS-FM and WJMK (K-Hits 104.3), just because the traditional classic hits shares went down. It also seemed to hurt WDRV (the Drive). That station is now a mainstream classic rocker, but it launched many years ago a soft classic hits outlet with some singer/songwriter music, as well as a similarly earnest presentation. We now know Me-TV-FM’s own 6-plus share to be a 1.8.

I’ve heard Me-TV-FM three times now. Under PD Rick O’Dell, who arrived last fall, it seems to have gravitated a little bit to the supersoft AC side, with an emphasis on the ‘70s, although the ‘60s oldies aren’t gone. Even with the recent fascination over Kenny Loggins/Pablo Cruise-style yacht rock, a lot of the AC ‘70s is truly lost. “Oh wow” songs are few and far between for me, but there were two within the first four songs I heard on Me-TV-FM.

O’Dell is also fleshing out the station and doing more with the imaging possibilities inherent in a station called “Me-TV-FM.” As part of the “Summer of Me,” the station has added not just a Saturday night disco show called “Dance With Me,” but a 6-9 p.m. show called “Yacht Rock Saturday Night.”

Here’s Me-TV FM on July 6 before 10:30pm:

  • Neil Diamond, “September Morn”
  • Barbara Mandrell, “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right”
  • Bee Gees, “Jive Talkin’”
  • John Denver, “How Can I Leave You Again”—this was preceded by a hook promo saying that other stations might play a few John Denver songs, but Me-TV-FM plays more of the Denver catalog. But it’s hard to imagine who in major-market FM radio still plays any John Denver, much less in Chicago.
  • Jim Croce, “I Got A Name”
  • Skylark, “Wildflower”
  • Peter, Paul & Mary, “Puff, The Magic Dragon”
  • Tony Orlando & Dawn, “Knock Three Times”
  • Michael McDonald, “Sweet Freedom”
  • Four Tops, “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)”
  • Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66, “Pretty World”
  • Temptations, “Just My Imagination”
  • Gary Lewis & the Playboys, “This Diamond Ring”
  • Spandau Ballet, “True”
  • England Dan & John Ford Coley, “Long Way Home” – preceded by a promo promising to surprise you with songs you might have forgotten about.
  • Four Seasons, “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)”

Seeing this article prompted O’Dell to send in a daytime log, which has more of the station’s lost ‘60s component, but similar eclecticism. Here’s his hour of Me-TV-FM at Noon:

  • Dave Mason, “We Just Disagree”
  • Gary Lewis & the Playboys, “Sure Gonna Miss Her”
  • Nat King Cole, “Unforgettable”
  • Steely Dan, “Hey Nineteen”
  • Malo, “Suavecito”
  • Eric Carmen, “Change of Heart”
  • Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”
  • Poppy Family, “That’s Where I Went Wrong”
  • Cornelius Bros. & Sister Rose, “Too Late To Turn Back Now”
  • Anne Murray, “You Needed Me”
  • Simon & Garfunkel, “America”
  • Jackie Wilson, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher”
  • Arlo Guthrie, “City of New Orleans”
  • Bill Withers, “Use Me”
  • Vogues, “Five O’Clock World”
  • Jennifer Warnes, “Rock You Gently”
  • Dan Fogelberg, “Missing You”
  • Simply Red, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”

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Profile photo of Sean Ross
Sean Ross is author of the Ross on Radio newsletter and VP of music and programming of Edison Research.

3 Comments

  1. Profile photo of ErieDJGuy


    Can’t ever say I’ve heard of “Long Way Home.” Guess it’s a long way off my radar.

  2. Profile photo of NuRoo2


    I was afraid this station would turn snoozy after Smooth Jazz vet Rick O’Dell took over as PD, and unfortunately it moved even further in that direction than I expected. I still appreciate the occasional 60s (which are really in keeping with parent Me-TV), and worthy nuggets like “Suavecito,” “America” (courtesy of Bernie Sanders?). And “Pretty World” (tho that’s *far* from Brasil 66’s best…) But overall it’s become a real disappointment.

    As for the Drive, I can’t imagine how this would have influenced it much. In fact, I thought it had already started moving toward mainstream CR even before Me-TV FM’s debut, similar to the evolution of WKLH Milwuakee.

  3. Profile photo of NuRoo2


    One other thing… while Me-TV FM doesn’t stream, its website does list the last five played.

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