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 about policing the free beer at brewery tours. I’m pretty sure that I’d heard “Bad Case of Loving You” already, but not on the radio. I knew WRVQ (Q94) Richmond, Va., often ahead of WPGC on well-chosen new music, was playing it. It came on just as we were whipping around the curves on the convoluted interchange of I-64 and I-95. Maybe that’s not something that you’d choose to remember fondly, but ...[Read More]

Podcast Movement: The Medium Has Matured; But Has Radio’s Understanding Of It?

It was very easy to identify radio industry folks at the Podcast Movement convention in Philadelphia this week; they were the ones wearing business attire as opposed to casual wear. Don’t take that to mean that most in podcasting don’t believe there’s money to be made or a lack of professionalism. Podcast Movement 2018 may have been one of the most upbeat industry conventions I have been to. Nearly everyone present was there with a willingness to learn, share ideas, and figure out how to better there crafts regardless if they were a newcomer or a CEO. At this morning’s executive panel Hubbard Radio CEO Ginny Morris summed it well when describing her company’s podcasting strategy, “Be as open minded as we can and to learn from those of you who know about ...[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 Hits” playlist somewhere have avoided all that? In the absence of other options, stations like WKIC were my gold standard for daytime listening, until nighttime DX became available. They were the suburban or small-town stations, audible from Washington, D.C., that not only played new music, but did not necessarily weed songs from the gold library once they were established as something other than c...[Read More]

The Potential Aftershocks Of Today’s Philadelphia Deals

Last week I heard rumblings of a major deal coming in Philadelphia but couldn’t narrow specifics of who was involved. In nearly every logical scenario I ran through in no way would the three-way deal between Beasley Media, Entercom, and Jerry Lee Broadcasting announced today have even entered the thinking. Up until the dueling press releases were sent this morning I would have labeled it as the type of fantasy deal making you would find on a message board and maybe not there. But it makes sense on multiple levels. Entercom gets the crown jewel of its home market, while Beasley gets back a station it owned for over thirty years and was one of its major market acquisitions as both companies increase their revenue concentration as the last big FM standalone in any major market finally c...[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 home base of WOL Washington. I’d already been to the station a few times, and the only thing I liked more was when a stack of records came home. So that my career was set in stone at that point wasn’t so surprising. By that time, my dad had already been a Chicago Daily News reporter, a speechwriter for Chicago’s Mayor Richard J., Daley, the public affairs person for the city’s water commissioner (in ...[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 attention to an earlier trade publication article where he was among several PDs predicting a move to the 2000s, partially because so many of us perceive the ‘90s to be a dead zone for mass-appeal hit music. Everything that follows comes with multiple caveats about doing things for the right reason. KOLA gets to be both Classic Hits and gold-based AC station for its market. Other Classic Hits stations ha...[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 first. In recent weeks, with Mainstream CHR in the depths of a current product crisis, programmers have been resorting to a lot of songs past their chart peak to fill their current rotations. Look at a major-market CHR now and you’re likely to see any or all of the following: Megahits that will not go away in power: Stations still powering Dua Lipa, “New Rules”; or NF, “Let You Down”; or G-Eazy &...[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, into the Modern AC ‘90s that most pop stations weren’t sure what to do with: Sheryl Crow, Green Day, Matchbox 20, even Sublime.  Many of those songs are approaching 2,000 spins now, Last week, I got an e-mail from a friend within earshot. KOLA had cut its ‘70s down to less than one an hour, now playing only megahits of the “Stayin’ Alive,” “Hold The Line,” “I Will Survive” caliber. Filtered in over t...[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 it count, radio. As has been the case for the nearly 15 years that we’ve been writing about the summer song, this isn’t a listing of every likely summer hit. It’s songs with some degree of tempo or tropicality. Drake’s “Nice for What” is a hit, but it’s not his “One Dance”/”Passionfruit”-type entry. There are also at least 2-3 major titles likely to drop over the next 14 days. And at his current ra...[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 some of the Citadel stations went further in the mid-‘90s. Josh “Rowdy Yates” Holstead was at both KILT and KIKK. Now he’s teamed with another Houston radio veteran, Pat Fant and veteran PD Cruze’s Suitenet for a new syndicated 24/7 format, The Brand. Since that Houston battle, Country has been through three up/down cycles. Each time hot country becomes not-as-hot, there’s always a question of wheth...[Read More]