Fresh Listen: Chris Country

Country radio in the U.K., when it existed, tended to be an odd mix of traditional Country with what would come to be known as Americana, and occasionally a song or two that Americans would never think of as Country. In the same way that it takes experimenting rockers like Kid Rock or Aaron Lewis to bring a traditional-leaning song to Country radio, it took Europeans to try and keep it Country on the radio. U.K. Country was a rootsy, almost fetishized version of Country. As with the AC-leaning Country radio in the Northeast U.S., it was believed that this was what Country radio had to do to survive. Except that Country didn’t always survive in the Northeast, or on the U.K. dial. Country in the Northeast U.S. these days is often as contemporary and as aggressive as anywhere else. And on Chr...Read More

Fresh Listen: Revolution 93.5 Miami

It’s better now, but there was a period, several years ago, where South Florida radio was losing the one thing you could generally count on it for—sense of place. Miami radio was often deliberately low-key presentationally; the excitement came from hearing a lot of new music, a lot of local hits, and, yes, dance music. And for a minute, South Florida radio felt to me like being in any other market. But WPOW (Power 96) is playing Latin crossovers again. WMXJ (the Beach) plays “Rapper’s Delight,” the only Classic Hits station where you can hear that song in significant rotation. WHQT (Hot 105) has been playing one song after another that I recognize as a hit, but not that I’m used to hearing on the Urban AC safe list. And, yes, there’s dance music on the radio again WZFL (Revolution 93.5) is...Read More

WIXX Green Bay Celebrates Forty Years: Throwback Listen, 1984 . . . Fresh Listen, Now

I don’t have any tape of WIXX Green Bay, Wis., as Top 40 “Rock 101” in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. I didn’t need to. I could hear WIQB (Rock 103) Ann Arbor, Mich., which was briefly, and less successfully, running the same TM Stereo Rock automated format. Stereo Rock, widespread in that era, was the least hip distillation of the format, and it was readily identifiable whenever one came upon it in their radio travels with its perfectly cadenced backsells (essentially today’s AC song tags). I once heard WIQB segue from Aerosmith’s “Draw the Line” (on its nighttime reel of AOR songs) to Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” I once heard affiliate WSTW Wilmington, Del., play “Nothing Ever Goes As Planned” by Styx, the only time I ever heard that song on the radio. ...Read More

When Not to Like Music; When to Like It Again

I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to like “You Light Up My Life.” When I first encountered Debby Boone’s soon-to-be hit in the late summer of 1977, it was just sort of moody and interesting. It was of a piece with the similarly earnest “Just Remember I Love You” by Firefall or “Sometimes When We Touch” by Dan Hill, and any of the other unavoidable MOR/pop of that era. There was also some excitement in seeing it break quickly — No. 1 in Houston in about three weeks’ time, then exploding everywhere else. Also, “You Light Up My Life,” the movie that accompanied it, was a nice little sleeper with some moments of genuine insight into the advertising business. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to like Barry Manilow. “Mandy” was also just another pop ballad, and one of the jocks in my seventh-grade c...Read More

Def Leppard and EDM at Adult Contemporary, Beyoncé at CHR: A Dialogue With Matt DelSignore

“Hi, Sean! A few radio-related items have been on my mind, so I thought I’d send them along to get your take. Maybe fodder for future columns?” So began the e-mail from reader Matt DelSignore. I came to know Matt as a reporter for the former all-news station WNEW Washington, D.C., when it became clear he followed music radio as closely as anybody on this side of the business. And some of the things that he’s observed lately are, indeed, worth discussing at greater length. So I decided to take the dialogue public, beginning with: Topic I – Where Is Beyoncé At CHR? Matt: I was really glad to see an industry publication [Billboard] tackle this question re: Beyoncé and [the lack of airplay for the “Lemonade” album at] pop radio. Last summer, it struck me how CHRs excitedly touted their B...Read More

Fresh Listen: Happy Birthday, Bob FM

When CFWM (99.9 Bob FM) Winnipeg debuted just over 15 years ago, (on March 4, 2002): Classic Rock was still focused on its first generation of artists, and considered the Boston-to-Bon-Jovi era to be a secondary trifle, at best. Pushing into the ‘90s wasn’t even a consideration; those songs were still recent gold for Alternative and Active Rock radio. Oldies radio had not renamed itself Classic Hits and was still grappling with how to push further into the ‘70s. The ‘80s were just another era for Mainstream AC radio, which still went back to the ‘60s and ‘70s without issues. The ‘80s had just been discredited as a separate format by the fast-burning all-‘80s stations, but they were still a center lane for “’80s, ‘90s, and Now” Hot ACs. The Adult Hits boom that Bob FM fostered—within a year...Read More

How Is Removing The Ownership Subcaps Good For All?

Earlier this month six group owners wrote a letter to the FCC petitioning for the removal of the AM/FM band subcaps per market. The heads of Alpha Media, Connoisseur Media, East Arkansas Broadcasters, Galaxy Communications, Jackson Radio Works, and Roberts Communications seek the FCC to act on a previous NAB petition to reconsider the limits on the amounts of stations a company can own in a market. The Commission originally adopted the AM/FM subcaps in light of technological and marketplace differences between AM and FM stations that the FCC feared disadvantaged AM stations. The Commission’s most recent broadcast ownership order ignores record evidence that any technical and marketplace dynamics that may once have differentiated AM and FM stations no longer exist. On reconsideration, the C...Read More

Number Two For New Music . . . And What To Do About It

It was a trend that had been years in the offing, but it was still shocking when the numbers hit the screen as part of the 2017 edition of Edison Research’s “The Infinite Dial.” Among those respondents who said it was “very important” or “somewhat important” to keep up-to-date with music, broadcast radio had fallen out of its first-place tie as a source used for doing so. “Friends and Family” was now alone at No. 1 (flat at 68%), followed by YouTube (64%). “AM/FM Radio” was now third, down 68%-63%. Spotify was sixth, but up 25-33%. Among 12-to-24-year-olds, where AM/FM had already lost its hegemony, YouTube was first (80%), followed by Friends/Family (77%), Spotify (59%), Pandora (53%), and AM/FM (50%). Last year, among all respondents, broadcast radio was first outright when listeners wer...Read More

First Listen: WXAJ (99.7 The Mix) Springfield IL

It was a familiar headline from CHR doldrums past. The market’s second Mainstream CHR segues to Adult CHR, promising “the best variety of music from the ‘90s, 2K and today.” Often the next step is that the only remaining Top 40 eventually switches formats, too. But on WXAJ (99.7 the Mix) Springfield, Ill., the ‘90s part of the equation isn’t Matchbox Twenty and the Goo Goo Dolls. It’s actually a lot of the songs that scared stations out of the CHR format at the time. Even in 1992, one would hear Kris Kross, “Jump,” and wonder if it would be playing on Hot AC in 25 years. Your station might have crossed that threshold for a lunchtime feature or special weekend. I heard the Mix playing it at the top of the 10 a.m. hour yesterday (March 14). Not all the “oh wow” songs on the Mix are lost ‘90s...Read More

Fresh Listen: Alexa’s Favorite “Light FM”

It began with a discussion between Edison Research colleague Larry Rosin and his Amazon Echo. He asked Alexa to play “Lite FM.” She said, “Playing ‘Lite FM’ on TuneIn.” And this is the station she gave him. Light FM Beirut began, I now know from the station site, as a hobbyist station in 1989. “Throughout the years, more and more listeners started tuning in to forget their everyday stress.” This in a market where everyday stress had meant more than just traffic jams. I reached out to managing partner Karim Mansour to ask if he’d noticed more listening from the U.S. recently. He said, “We’ve been getting increased streaming traffic from all over the world.” As a student of radio everywhere, I’m happy when audio tourism finds me an enjoyable AC option from far away. For most broadcasters, ho...Read More

… And The Best Positioning of Today

Despite the pedestrian nature of many current radio station positioners, and my fears that they’re making radio sound small at the wrong time, I’m still able to find some current ones that stand out for me. I liked KROQ Los Angeles’ “Alternative First,” a slogan which it is now playing down, in tandem with going more gold-based again. That liner simultaneously claimed the music discovery position and asserted the station heritage against KYSR (Alt 98.7). I like that stations want to be “Number One for Music Discovery.” But I often hear it next to the song that is already a sub-power on a station and has been playing for 13 weeks—because if that slogan were used on music that was truly new, stations could use it only about eight times a day. It also takes something personal and joyful like ...Read More

Blaine Jackson Named PD Of WLUB/W292EE Augusta

iHeartMedia has named Blaine Jackson as Program Director of Country “105.7 The Bull” WLUB and Classic Country “106.3 The Bull Icons” W292EE/WLUB-HD2 Augusta GA. Jackson joins WLUB/W292EE from sister “96.5 The Bull” WIHB-FM Gray/Macon where she served as PD/Midday host. She has spent her entire radio career with iHeart, starting as a board operator in Macon in 2010 and eventually moving up to Program Director at the company’s Newnan GA stations and then WIHB. iHeartMedia announced today that Blaine Jackson has been named program director for WLUB 105.7 The Bull and WLUB HD2 106.3 The Bull Icons effective immediately. 105.7 the Bull, Augusta’s No. 1 for Country, plays today’s hottest country hits including the newest tracks from artists such as...Read More

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