My New Favorite CHR And Other Things I Heard On (Or Around) World Radio Day

Tuesday was World Radio Day—a few days ahead of when I would normally publish a column. And while I could repurpose my recent joke about every day being World Radio Day in “Ross On Radio,” it’s actually the case that I haven’t focused enough on international radio recently. There were reasons. Having access to a world of hit music changed my life twenty years ago, but over the last decade, release dates became more coordinated internationally, meaning that there was less new music to discover. In the U.K., radio networked and consolidated, eliminating most of the truly musically aggressive stations. More stations followed the U.S. lead and geo-blocked their streams. But I never felt I shouldn’t be listening to more international radio. Reconnecting with CKOI Montreal last summer was one of...Read More

First Listen: “Z62” WZON Bangor, Maine

I’ve been in a lot of Facebook and e-mail group discussions about KQV Pittsburgh. A month after going dark, KQV has been sold and will likely return to the air, but from a new transmitter site, which will make it essentially a suburban AM in its own market. That led to a recent group discussion about how few AMs have the footprint within a sprawling market to be anything more than a rimshotter. Then we started talking about the possible demise of the aircheck site, and the unlikelihood that anybody younger than us would care about the demise of ‘60s/’70s top 40 culture. It was not a cheerful discussion. But don’t get all existential yet. A few hours later, news broke that WZON Bangor, Maine, the liberal talk station owned by author Stephen King, had gone into one of its regul...Read More

A Life of Hearing Differently

By the time I was six, I had already figured out that my taste in music went beyond what was on the radio. My dad worked at WOL Washington, D.C., and it didn’t take long to figure out that some of what he brought home from the music library became a hit, but some of my favorite songs never did. With time, I would come to realize that even some songs that were hits at the time would maintain a different place in the firmament for me than they did with others. “Pata Pata” by Miriam Makeba was a moment in time for some; it remains in power gold for me (although that may be 10 spins a year). I’m wondering if I should write this column about how my taste in music has differed through time from that of my friends. Or from the radio listening audience that I serve and protect as a consultant and ...Read More

The Insighters On Second Chances

In light of David Mueller’s return to radio at WMYQ/Greenwood, MS, we posed this question to The Insighters: Should radio people who screw up get second chances? Is there ever a point at which the infraction is so bad that a second chance shouldn’t even be considered? Major market talent: If it weren’t for second chances none of us would have gigs. We’ve all messed up before. Medium market programmer: I can think of only one time where I haven’t given a second chance. I can think of another instance where I let someone go, but kept the door open for rehire. And I did. He was a remarkable talent. National digital executive: Everyone deserves the chance of rehabilitation. Should they be put back in the same position they held prior? Well that depends on the incident a...Read More

Fresh Listen: Sirius XM – Little Steven’s Underground Garage

Three recent e-mails: “My favorite radio station is Little Steven’s Underground Garage on SiriusXM—rock and soul music you [will] not [hear] anywhere else.” – Michael DesBarres, October, 2017, in response to a column called “My New Favorite Radio Station Is…” “It really is time for you to cover Steven Van Zandt’s Underground Garage. Simply put, we play music that you cannot hear anywhere else—from Howlin’ Wolf to Greta Van Fleet . . . Little Steven has created a very singular ethos to rock and soul music, beaming the beat from a satellite.” – Michael Des Barres, November 2017. “Sean, it really is time you shine a spotlight on Little Steven’s Underground Garage. Everything you discussed here, we’ve been doing for over a decade.” – Michael Des Barres, January, 2018, in response to an article...Read More

The Insighters Take On Smart Speakers

Should Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple’s HomePod, etc. have an FM chip in them? Medium market talent: Why? Home internet connections are unmetered, and if you aren’t streaming, you should.  FM would require a decent sized antenna, and that would ruin the aesthetics of the device. Better [to improve] user experience listening to a stream that is static free. Small market GM: To a broadcaster, whether a person listens via the stream or over-the-air makes a BIG economic difference in royalty payments for the stream, versus none for the broadcast. Small market programmer: It shouldn’t necessarily be required, but I’m all for it.  The more places and ways people can get radio the better, as far as I’m concerned. National digital executive: I don’t think so. Playing a station alone i...Read More

Thoughts On Who Could Buy Scripps’ Properties

With Scripps announcing it plans to divest itself of its 34 radio stations across eight markets, the biggest question being asked is who would want the properties. In the past a company who operates in mostly top 100 markets that put its properties on the block would be full of suitors. With station groups like Alpha Media, Cumulus and iHeartMedia having financial issues it would be hard to see them as likely bidders for the Scripps properties. That could leave groups like Townsquare Media, Saga, SummitMedia and Entercom interested in most if not all of the Scripps properties. Going on a market by market basis let’s look at what’s in Scripps portfolio and who may be interested. Milwaukee Scripps only possesses News/Talk 620 WTMJ and Country 94.5 WKTI, Entercom has to be seen as...Read More

When “Oh Wow” Is Part of the Plan: Fresh Listen: WQKX Sunbury PA

I’ve been writing a lot about radio road trips lately. As a kid, the objective was to hear new songs before they played in my market. Once I better understood radio programming, the goal was also to hear gold titles that you couldn’t hear on New York-area radio. There was no better place for this than Northern Pennsylvania radio, thanks to roughly a handful of stations heard on I-80 between the Delaware Water Gap and the Ohio border. One of them was “94KX” WQKX Sunbury PA, which I remember as being a lot of fun for both newer and older titles. About ten days ago, ROR reader Brendan Joseph tweeted me. “Want to hear a trainwreck of throwback goodness? @94KX is doing an ‘80s/’90s weekend.” The first song I heard was LL Cool J, “Mama Said Knock You Out.” I knew the station was seri...Read More

Introducing The Insighters

Welcome to the debut of The Insighters!  This column will feature one more weekly questions about radio goings-on.  Sometimes, they’ll be deep and thoughtful, sometimes light and fluffy and occasionally just silly.  We’ve assembled a panel of smart people in various areas of the industry to give us their take on these questions.  In order to allow our panel to give us their true take on the issues of the day, we are protecting their anonymity, but our panel has been carefully vetted to include only those with true insight to provide.  (See what we did there?)  So with no further ado, let’s get to this week’s premiere of The Insighters. WABC/New York has been hanging around a one-share with an extremely upper-end audience.  With Imus exiting in March, what would you do to revitalize the sta...Read More

Don Imus, Ronn Owens & Chicago; Yes They’re All Connected

In his statement today announcing the coming end of the Imus In The Morning show, Don Imus clearly stated why the move happened and why he won’t be the only Cumulus employee or station effected. “The company Cumulus, because my contract runs out in December of this year. At which point I was going to stop doing Imus In The Morning. I was going to stop doing it on December 2, 2018. Somewhere in that area. But they began to talk to me and the lawyers about; as long as I wasn’t going to be with the station past that what would be the point of paying me millions of dollars when they can save that. So we tried to make some sort of deal.. (gibberish). So they declared bankruptcy. Well when they declared bankruptcy then they don’t have to pay anybody including me. They dec...Read More