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Fresh Listen: Soft AC Around The World

Sunshine 106.8 DublinFor the last two or three years, the brief for the growth of Soft AC has been written outside North America as well. Sunshine 106.8, “Dublin’s Easy Place to Relax,” has been one of world radio’s most phenomenal growth stories. Australia and New Zealand have a tradition of Oldies/Soft AC hybrids, often persevering as music AMs with far bigger numbers than an Adult Standards or AM Oldies station could hope for in North America. But the country’s Smooth FMs, including Smooth 91.5 Melbourne, helped the format take hold on FM.

In the Australian ratings, released last Monday (Nov. 12), Smooth 91.5 went 9.9-9.8, making it third after the top 40 and classic hits stations. Its Sydney counterpart was second, going 9.3-8.8. Dublin’s ratings were released to weeks ago, Sunshine was at its highest numbers ever, 7.8-8.6, and third among commercial outlets. (Thanks to Chris Huff for the ratings summaries.)

As with the soft ACs in North America, Smooth 91.5 and Sunshine 106.8 are parked to the right of competitors, but not particularly old and soft. If you’re looking to teach yourself another country’s oldies history, or their second or third tier AC titles, or discover the local equivalent of the schlocky-but-loveable titles sprinkled on throughout Sirius XM ‘70s on 7, for instance, these aren’t the right stations.

If you have any familiarity with European or Australian AC, you’ll recognize most of these as reliable hits, but you can get through much of the hour I heard on Smooth 91.5 with only an American frame of reference and still know most of the songs. I first wrote about Sunshine 106.8 in February. In keeping with the traditional trajectory of Soft AC, the hour I spent with the station seemed a little newer and brighter than my first listen. One of Sunshine’s most interesting features is its country component; the station was running ads for an upcoming show by the American country act Midland.

SmoothFM Smooth FM 91.5 MelbourneHere’s Smooth 91.5 around 10:20 a.m. on November 14:

  • Air Supply, “All Out of Love”
  • Pat Benatar, “Love Is A Battlefield”
  • Bob Marley & Wailers, “Could You Be Loved”
  • Ed Sheeran, “Photograph”
  • Frankie Valli, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”
  • Counting Crows w/Vanessa Carlton, “Big Yellow Taxi”
  • Yvonne Elliman, “If I Can’t Have You”
  • Backstreet Boys, “As Long As You Love Me”
  • Michael Bublé, “Love You Any More” (staged as a “Smooth FM discovery,” with audio from the artist)
  • Eric Carmen, “Hungry Eyes”
  • Boyz II Men, “End of the Road”
  • Nelly Furtado, “I’m Like A Bird”
  • Bee Gees, “You Win Again”
  • Daryl Hall & John Oates, “Rich Girl”
  • Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”
  • Spice Girls, “Stop”
  • Nik Kershaw, “Wouldn’t It Be Good”
  • Robbie Williams, “Angels”
  • Earth, Wind & Fire w/Emotions, “Boogie Wonderland”

Here’s Sunshine 106.8 just before 1 p.m. on the same day:

  • Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind (Part II)” (the last song of a sweep; a stopset and :00 news package followed before…)
  • Tina Turner, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”
  • Faith Hill, “There’ll You’ll Be”
  • Cranberries, “Linger”
  • Michael McDonald, “Sweet Freedom”
  • Dixie Chicks, “Landslide”
  • Paul Young, “Love of the Common People”
  • James Taylor, “Fire and Rain”
  • Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time”
  • Roy Orbison, “She’s A Mystery To Me”
  • Shania Twain, “You’re Still The One”
  • Dr. Hook, “Sharing the Night Together

The Soft AC Boom

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