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

Classic Soul Is on a Roll

One of the gratifying developments of the last few years has been the return of Classic Soul to the airwaves. The ‘90s Hip-Hop/R&B Throwback stations have had their highly publicized ups and downs. Most of Radio One’s “Old School” stations have evolved back to Urban AC as well, but WOSF (Old School 105.3) Charlotte, N.C., remains a force. And over the last year, Radio One has rolled out ‘60s-and-‘70s-based AM/FM translator combos in Cincinnati and Detroit. Then, in December, it unveiled Classix 102.9 Atlanta. Nashville has two Classic R&B stations now: the long-running heritage AM WVOL and the more recent The Ville, which got a number of reader mentions when I solicited suggestions for Intriguing Stations of 2017. Then I came across a stream for WHKO-HD-3 (The Soul of Dayton) Dayto...Read More

Building The Biggest Morning Show Tree

At the end of each NFL season as the carousel of hirings and firings goes into full swing one of the big stories becomes which new assistant coaches will get the nod to become a head coach. Certain existing head coaches seem to have a greater knack for getting their assistant coaches into those jobs than others such as Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Seven of the current 30 head coaches (not including vacancies in Arizona and Tennessee that does not have a rumored candidate awaiting the completion of their current team’s season) come from branches off of Reid’s tree just as Reid was an assistant of Mike Holmgren who was a branch of Bill Walsh. With a smaller bench for talent to start on weekends and move up through the dayparts until making their way to mornings, talent tha...Read More

Drinkchronicity II

One of the things you learn doing music research is, no kidding, the power of the drinking song. It’s been a decade or so since the concept of songs aging symmetrically — you will carry only your high school music through life — gave way to more of an “eternal jukebox” of transcendent songs that one might or might not have grown up with. And the eternal jukebox is often driven by those songs actually playing on a jukebox or its contemporary equivalent. The power of the drinking song is why the last two examples of ‘70s soft rock to disappear from Adult Contemporary radio were “Margaritaville” and “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).” Even now at Classic Hits radio, the format once known as Oldies, Jimmy Buffett and Rupert Holmes have outlasted Firefall, England Dan & John Ford Coley, and th...Read More

My Virtual Road Trip, Part 2

I wanted to re-create the New York to Florida road trips that had been so influential in instilling a love of radio at a young age. I didn’t want to drive them. So I taped radio from Miami to New York and listened to CHR and some Hot AC stations in the order that I would hear them on a real radio road trip. Last week, I made it to Eastern North Carolina at the end of “Day 1.” I was looking for the hallmarks of a trip taken in a very different time — significant differences and sense of place from market to market; songs that weren’t on the radio yet in New York. Was I setting myself up for disappointment? As a kid, I wasn’t attuned to much more than the music. I didn’t pick up on any similarities between the screaming Top 40 “Super-Q”’s that I would have likely heard from town to town in l...Read More

12 Station Sign Offs That Defined 2017

  The first big change this year signaled that, even in a PPM world, there was not room for an unlimited number of stations playing Mainstream CHR. It ended with a prominent departure from Throwback Hip-Hop and R&B, capping a year of defections from the format. In between, there were viable stations that nonetheless became affiliates of the Christian AC K-Love network. In other words, the departures typified radio in 2017, and said as much about the landscape as the format launches. Sometimes it was a product of the available music, but as often the decision said as much about an owner’s priorities and comfort zone. Classic Country saw significant traffic in both directions. Throwback Hip-Hop and R&B lost many of its showplaces throughout the year, but ended the year with anot...Read More

The Lost 45s Never Surrender: The Top 100 of 2017

There are three former countdown chart-toppers that listeners to Barry Scott’s “The Lost 45s” don’t even vote for anymore, all from a five year stretch in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s: Abba, “Dancing Queen”; Rupert Holmes, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”; and Rick Springfield, “Jessie’s Girl.” With the passage of time, those songs all became staples at AC, then Classic Hits and/or Adult Hits stations. But in the early years of the show–launched in 1985 at non-comm WERS Boston, and now heard in more than 50 markets–they were considered too goofy for the radio. That’s why Scott’s annual Top 100 countdown is always interesting. Most of the songs that make the countdown aren’t going to become radio staples. But, like this year’s No. 1 song, Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender,” some have no ...Read More

Our 2018 Radio Industry Predictions

While large-scale dealmaking in radio has been slow the past couple of years outside of the Entercom/CBS Radio merger, the action has been heavy on the television side. As some of the biggest television operators reach the current limits of the amount of television they will need to look to other mediums to continue to grow their revenue streams. That is why we are making the prediction that 2018 will be the year we begin to see the big television group operators acquire radio groups. Some television operators have seen the benefits of having integrated television and radio stations such as Hearst’s WBAL/WIYY/WBAL-TV Baltimore, Sinclair’s KOMO/KPLZ/KVI/KOMO-TV Seattle, Tribune’s WGN/WGN-TV Chicago and Tegna’s just purchased KFMB/KFMB-FM/KFMB-TV San Diego. With the F...Read More

My Top 100 (Or Thereabouts) Of 2017

It’s been a while since I had the time, or perhaps the enthusiasm, to put together a top 100 list for the year. But each time I write about “The Songs That Made a Difference” at radio, some people take it as a year-end list. And this year, I was particularly curious whether I could manage 100 titles. There have been years (I remember 1980 particularly) where bad music on the radio didn’t necessarily equate to bad available music. So I was curious to at least go through the exercise At this writing, I’m just under 100 songs. As friends and commenters remind me of others, I’m sure the list will grow. (So feel free to check back at the end of the year, especially after year-end lists from other territories remind me of songs I might have missed.) You’ll definitely see the influence of CKOI Mo...Read More

The Biggest Radio Launch Nobody In Radio Is Even Aware Of

In a universe far away from where traditional AM/FM radio broadcasters live a massive radio station launch took place this week that is getting more national media attention than nearly every commercial radio launch this year combined. Musician Frank Ocean launched “a radio station” in the most recent update to the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. Ocean’s “Blonded Los Santos 97.8 FM” is the nineteenth station in the game and features 28 songs stretching from Ocean himself, Jay-Z, Mervin Gaye, Migos, and Todd Rundgren. Like every station in the game, which are available as players are driving around on missions, the station features personalities (in this case Vegyn, Roof Access, and Federico Aliprandi who hosted Ocean’s Blonded Radio on Apple’s Beats...Read More

Final Listen: WGHT (North Jersey 1500)

I don’t always listen to the last hours of a radio station. I’m usually more interested in hearing regular format, while I can, rather than the goodbyes and sometimes lengthy closing credits. But I did end up listening to WGHT three times before its sign-off last Thursday, including most of the last hour. You can definitely say that North Jersey 1500 died as it had lived. Some of what owner Sillman played toward the end qualified as a policy statement—the Skyliners’ doo-wop version of “I’ll Be Seeing You”; the retro doo-wop classic, “Looking for an Echo” by Kenny Vance. Some of it was just typically eclectic. Why early ‘60s artist Joe Dowell’s follow-up to “Wooden Heart,” “The Bridge of Love”? Why quirky ‘60s Country artist Tommy Collins? Why “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” by Ian Dury? No...Read More