America’s All-Current CHR Superstation Is …

It’s always an intriguing question for programmers. Could you successfully program an all-current CHR along the lines of WCAU-FM Philadelphia? WCAU, now WOGL, famously revitalized the format with a total inventory of 50 titles in fall ‘81/spring ’82. And it did so beginning at a time when CHR music was at its then-nadir. That was a long time ago, and all-current is not where CHR lives right now. Over the last decade, CHR has adapted the lessons of Country and Hot AC — formats where recurrents are often the most important records on the station. These days, CHR is usually on permanent staycation in “stay current” — the category where songs go on their way from power rotation to recurrent. Nationally, CHR has effectively become a format of less than 20 currents receiving meaningful rotation....Read More

To the College Broadcaster I Heard Tonight

Like a lot of the radio that interests me, I came upon the college Alternative station I heard tonight by accident. Its name was similar to a better-known commercial station. That station wasn’t available online, so I decided to listen. “Sober Up” by AJR was ending. The student on the air ID’d it as the band “Air.” Then he back-sold M83’s “Midnight City” as by “M-B-3.” A few breaks later, AWOLnation became “Owl-Nation.” The student on the air didn’t get all the band names wrong. He didn’t do anything particularly risible. He made it through a PSA perfunctorily — clearly reading, but not stumbling. He plowed through a dense weather forecast a little too quickly. Mostly the breaks were backsells, and most of them were “that was/this is.” But even if the broadcast had been more spectacularly ...Read More

Listening To Every New Song In Every Format

It’s been a weekly ritual for as long as I’ve had access to monitored airplay. On Sunday nights, just before the new chart week begins, I begin with the Mainstream Top 40 chart and listen to any new songs I haven’t heard yet — usually those cracking the 100-spin mark for the first time. I work my way through most of the current-driven formats. It’s not a perfect listening exercise. In Country, there’s always a point around No. 20 in a song’s ascent where that initial spin is too distant to remember, but I’m not yet encountering songs on the radio, and have to re-listen. In Active Rock, I may never hear most songs on the radio later, unless I seek out those stations that still have a significant current footprint. But each week’s listening still leaves me with thoughts on individual s...Read More

First Listen: Boomtown Richmond

“Out and About” wasn’t the first song that caught my attention on WUWN/WBTL (Boomtown Radio) Richmond, Va. It was just the one that made me start writing songs down. Boyce & Hart’s “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” is of those top 10 records that might as well have never existed — except in my firmament — based on its acknowledgment (or lack thereof) by Oldies radio. That was the case even when Oldies radio was Oldies radio, and even when Oldies radio was firmly centered in 1967. “Out and About” was the Boyce & Hart single before “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight.” It peaked at No. 39. Although it does have some ongoing pop-culture footprint for being featured in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie, you don’t hear it on the radio now either. So I did a First Listen to “Boomtown Ric...Read More

First Listen: Fonz-FM Milwaukee

There are two things to know about Fonz FM, the AM/FM-translator combo that recently rebranded from the True Oldies Channel. The name is brilliant, prompting the sort of excited reader reaction that I last experienced during the November volley of CBS/Entercom format change. Like Tuscaloosa, Ala.’s Nick 97.5, it was the rare format change that generated TV coverage. I wish I’d come up with the name myself, but I’ve never had to launch an oldies station in the city where “Happy Days” took place. Then, despite the name, the music is largely ‘70s with some ‘60s, which is where True Oldies Channel had evolved to as well. Fonz FM isn’t specializing in the pre-Beatles music that would have been playing at the Arnold’s Drive-In of the TV show. I’ve heard “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” but even tha...Read More

We’ve Finally Reached Rock Bottom – What The iHeartMedia Bankruptcy Really Means

Cumulus Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring in November, iHeartMedia joined them last night. The two biggest albatrosses hanging upon the radio industry for nearly a decade now were the billions of dollars in debt payments owed by two of the biggest operators. Once Cumulus and iHeartMedia come out of the process, their financial status will be much improved and without the debt payments to hold them down they will be in a much more viable position to invest it their businesses. As Bob Pittman emphasized in a memo to iHeartMedia employees today, their company generated more than $6 billion in revenue and $1.6 billion of OIBDAN over the past 12 months. Nearly all of that revenue went back into debt payment as opposed to operations and growth. During the bankruptcy no interest...Read More

America’s Fastest Growing Music Service Is…

There’s good news for Amazon Music in “The Infinite Dial 2018,” just released by Edison Research. Monthly usage of the subscription service, flat a year ago, was up 6% to 9% in 2018. Those saying they used the service in the previous week were also up, 4% to 6%. Amazon Music’s usage is a fraction of the listening to either Pandora (31% last month) or Spotify (20%), but it’s the biggest gain of any of the music services. Among 25-54-year-olds, Amazon Music is up 10%-13%. The news is most dramatic among owners of smart speakers. Among all users, Amazon Music is the fifth audio brand used most often (8%), but among smart speaker owners, jumps to third place (15%) behind Pandora (34%) and Spotify (23%). So what does Alexa’s in-house music service sound like? Here’s a recent listen to five of t...Read More

Final Listen: WLUP Chicago

“97.9 The Loop” WLUP-FM Chicago didn’t get the same big sendoff that “100.3 The Sound” KSWD Los Angeles did when it was sold to the Christian AC K-Love Network, but irony abounds in its last 24 hours before the news broke. When I listened to midday host Lyndsey Marie on Monday, March 5, the first break I heard began with “looks like we’re in for a miserable ride home” (because of the snow that day). Okay, anything can sound ironic afterwards, but in the 10 p.m. hour on that day, WLUP-FM Chicago played Guns ‘N’ Roses, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” followed shortly thereafter by Joe Walsh, “Life’s Been Good,” and Bad Company, “Rock And Roll Fantasy.” After the Joe Walsh song, evening host James Van Osdol did what was apparently his final break, about the Eagles coming ...Read More

EMF: Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game

I originally wrote this last September after the purchase of KSWD Los Angeles, but after today’s purchase of 97.9 WLUP Chicago it bears repeating. EMF is just taking advantage of the weaknesses of the remainder of those capable of buying radio stations in this current landscape. Some have likened them to Star Trek’s Borg, others to Star Wars’ Galactic Empire. As Educational Media Foundation assimilates radio stations into its collective leaving nothing but a transmitter in its wake many have begun to wonder how they got to this point and how to stop them. To look at how EMF has gotten to this point you have to first look back to where they came from. What would become the national “K-Love” brand started out in Middletown/Santa Rosa CA in 1982 as “FM 92 K...Read More

The Best Batting Average In Country Radio

Among the “Moneyball”-style metrics that have become part of Jeff Green’s annual presentations at Country Radio Seminar, there were a new set of stats in Nashville this year. Those metrics were not about the songs, but the stations that break the hits, or don’t. Green rated stations on several factors: how fast their combination of airplay and audience could familiarize a song (KYGO Denver was the major market winner); how quickly they moved future No. 1 songs out of “test rotation” and into meaningful rotation, defined here as 7x a week (WSLC [Star Country] Roanoke, Va.); and how selective they were in avoiding songs that ultimately did not make the top 10 (a tie between WQIK Jacksonville, Fla., and WKCN [Kissin’ 99.3] Columbus, Ga.). Green also ranked those stations most likely to add a ...Read More