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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 ...[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 thr...[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 stat...[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. Cumulu...[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 cu...[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 pus...[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....[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 o...[Read More]

Twenty (Or So) (Mostly) Great Songs That Were a Hit on One Station

A few nights ago, “Bania U Cygana” by Zero came up in my workout playlist. “Bania U Cygana” was a Polish-language dance record that became a signature record for WKIE (Energy 92.7) Chicago during its brief tenure as a dance station in the early ‘00s. It never spread to crosstown WBBM-FM (B96), whose version of Rhythmic Top 40 was more Hip-Hop and R...[Read More]

Did Mike Joseph Die And Take Hot Hits With Him?

I didn’t like Mike Joseph’s “Hot Hits” WCAU-FM Philadelphia when I first heard it. I liked WIFI, the presciently named “Wi-Fi 92.” WIFI was pretty hot by 1981 CHR standards and threw in interesting gold. It was foreground enough compared to the rest of the sterile format, and when WCAU-FM came along, WIFI had just cracked a four-share after seguein...[Read More]