Monday, June 7, 2010

More Of Your Radio Comments

As promised, here are a few more of your recent radio comments:

This is my second e-mail to you since I discovered your website some two or three days ago. This Memorial Day Weekend let me tell you some of my opinions, as well as others here in the Oklahoma City area, on the status of oldies radio. I am sure that my opinion, as well as others here in OKC, are the same of your other readers.
People are getting tired of hearing the same oldies over and over and over again. Over and over and over! Sounds like a good title for a song from someone like Bobby Day, Thurston Harris or even maybe the Dave Clark 5. Having been with an oldies radio station for not quite some 20 years, the frustration is being consulted by a person or persons which you have never seen or met. Person or persons who live thousands of miles away from your station and are telling you how to program or what oldies to play for your listeners. I have had people tell me that they are getting tired of hearing Mary Wells' MY GUY over and over again, Johnny Cash's RING OF FIRE, just to name two. These artists had other records than those being played. Granted they may not have been top 10, 20, maybe 30 or 40 records, but they were records that made the charts, (radio surveys here in OKC) and people would remember them. It goes back to the age demographic of 25-64. I won't get into that because you know what I am talking about as far as radio and television are concerned.
Many years ago I did take part in an Arbitron survey for television. This Memorial Day Weekend, our oldies station is having a top 500 countdown of the top 500 oldies. It used to be that they would have listeners phone and / or write in to make suggestions. Not so any more. I don't know nowadays how they come up with these songs in order. Years ago you could count on the top 3 being IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT, OH PRETTY WOMAN, maybe THE TWIST. Not anymore. All fifties songs have been dropped. The only 60's songs you hear are those that have been "tested well" by those consultants.
Going on to another subject ... One thing that has fascinated me through the years were records that were very big locally here in OKC but failed to chart nationally (Billboard's Hot 100). This turned out to be true in every market. Turntable hits as some called them.Through the years there have been very few records which made it to number one here in OKC but never charted nationally. For example, Freddie Scott (HEY GIRL - 1963) had a record in 1961 on JOY records called LOST THE RIGHT which went to number one on top 40 radio station 930 WKY. People have told me some sort of payola was involved. I don't know. When that record came out, I was a young teenager and didn't know what payola was. If anyone should happen to ask me how I know if a record went to number one here in OKC, I tell them I have a good memory and if they can read, I will show them the actual radio survey for the week in question. In addition to the records which I have here at home, I have a copy of 930 WKY's weekly top 40 record surveys for the period of August 1958 up through 1979 when they were quit being printed. At that time I switched over to KOFM-FM 104 which had taken over the top 40 radio station. I have a weekly survey list of theirs until they quit printing them. I like to think I have a written history of what music or records were played here in OKC from the late fifties up through the mid eighties.I used to miss hearing the almost hits, obscure records etc. on the radio nowadays. Still do for that matter. But to be honest with you, I don't care anymore because if during the day I think of or see something that reminds me of a record that I havenot heard in years, I will get it out when I get home and play it. The key word in that sentence is record, not CD, tape, cassette, etc.
One final thing. I used to do two specialized shows for an oldies station here in OKC but they were taken off the air. If I wanted to read between the lines, the consultants from back East took them off. The shows did very well in the ratings. I was told from a DJ friend of mine years ago to copy the Arbitrons' rating for the time period you were on. I did and still have them. Like I said, consultants have their way. I had a consultant tell me years ago that the station he was helping to program was paying him $40,000 per year for his services. He said he would be paid whether or not they took his advice.
Thanks for allowing me at vent my frustration, pardon me, the listeners frustrations, on the status of oldies radio not only here in OKC but elsewhere.
Yours truly,
Larry N. Boyington, aka Larry Neal,
former curator of the Wax Museum on the big 1520 KOMA
Our frustration with the narrow playlists and never-ending repetition of oldies radio seems to be the common thread that runs through ALL of our Forgotten Hits readers ... we've been pushing the deejays to push the envelope now for eleven years now and, slowly but surely, we HAVE seen oldies radio improve somewhat during that time. (Of course, the ever-growing variety offered on Internet, Satellite and Wi-Fi have really taken this to another level, too ... we don't have to rely on just terrestrial radio anymore to get our musical fix! One would think that terrestrial radio would pick up on this and get themselves back in the game ... but we're repeatedly told by the "powers that be" that this isn't what the listeners really want to hear ... to which WE reply, "Interesting perspective, guys
... then why are you losing so many listeners to these other options?!?!?")
There is also a lot to be said for the "local feel" of a radio station. That's impossible to convey through any of these syndicated, voice-tracked shows because they have to appeal to the whole "generic" country rather than focus on any of the local and regional hits. This is why we get really excited when we see somebody like Jeff James at Y103.9 devote an entire hour of his program to playing nothing but local Chicagoland music from the '60's and '70's. (More on this later.)
We are always happy to promote programs that play more than the same 200-300 "tried and true" oldies that the so-called experts all seem to believe are the ONLY songs most people want to hear when, in fact, they insult the listeners' intelligence on a daily basis by drumming these same songs into our heads over and over and over again. Forgotten Hits owes its very existence (and constant growth) to the concept that we really CAN handle more than oldies radio typically has to offer. (We really DO remember these songs ... we grew up and fell in love with them ... and little by little, you're slowly burning us up ... and turning us off ... by playing these same "time-tested, proven oldies" over and over and over again!)
As for your local, regional hits, this, too, has been an on-going topic in Forgotten Hits. For years now we've done a feature called "Show Me Your Hits", spotlighting songs that were big hits in one specific area of the country yet barely made a dent on the national music scene. I would LOVE to do a week-long spotlight feature on Oklahoma ... and, if you have the chart information to back this up, would ask that you pick out 6-10 examples, send me copies of the charts (and, most likely, the tracks since I probably won't have them in my collection if they never charted nationally) and let's put together a week-long series! (We just did a short mini-feature on Wisconsin a while back on the website.) In fact, I would love to get copies of ALL of your local charts. As a survey collector myself, I have all the WLS and WCFL Surveys from the 1960's to the 1980's and LOVE looking at charts from other parts of the country to see what was big where.
Thanks for writing ... and I'm glad that you're enjoying Forgotten Hits. Hope we can pull together an Oklahoma Local Hits Series! (kk)

Hi KK,
I would love to send you some information and copies of surveys I have in which records were very big here in the OKC area but weren't nationally. I think you would be surprised on what I will send you. Are you in Chicago I assume? Would you believe last night here at home I played Don Shirley's 1961 recording on Cadence Records WATERBOY. It went to number one here in OKC. Not big nationally. I do not know this for a fact, but I was told it made it to number one there in Chicago on WLS. Speaking of, back in the late 60's, when the atmospheric conditions were right, I could listen to Art Roberts on WLS with "Hey Baby, They're Playing Our Song" One final thing. Oldies radio stations nowadays playing and stressing songs from the 70's is like the same song, same verse. They are playing the same 150-200 songs over and over again. There is nothing wrong with the songs being played, but just the repetition.
"Waterboy" didn't make it to #1 ... but it DID reach #7 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey. And I have to agree with you ... it's not that radio is playing bad songs ... they're GOOD songs ... they've just worn them out for us ... we NEED more variety ... it's reached the point where ANY song off the regular play list is a welcome delight ... even a song I can't STAND ... simply because it IS different. (These radio stations that advertise "you never know what we're going to play next" would do well to make that "next" song more of a surprise ... what we call those "WOW!" factor songs ... instead of something that you just know they were going to play in the next hour anyway!!!)

Again, hope we can pull the Local Hits Series together ... I'm pumped and ready to go! (kk)

Thanx for including my question on your website. I should have mentioned that your subscribers might enjoy my podcasts of old tv and radio commercials ... it's at I'm sure you know this already but I just found out that google books has Billboard, all the way back to the 40s ... woof! ... I barely know what to search for first!
-- stolf

Yes, in fact Joel Whitburn, who publishes all of these Billboard titles through his Record Research company, is a regular contributor to our list. The books are absolutely "Must Haves" for ANYBODY who follows the charts ... or wants to keep track of how their favorite songs performed on the most important chart in the country ... Billboard truly IS the music bible! (kk)

Is the Internet the "new" AM Radio of today? Lots more variety ... nowhere NEAR the playlist restrictions ... a chance for REAL personalities to shine ... we've been listening to more Internet Radio these past few years than ever before. Here's a recent article to support this theory:

I'm glad I am not the only one who loves "I've Never Been To Me". Someone introduced me to it about four years ago. I understand it gained fame in the "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" movie.

Whoa!!!! I never meant to imply in ANY fashion that anybody out there actually LOVES "I've Never Been To Me"!!! (lol) It just may be one of the most-hated songs of all time!!! I've never seen "Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert", but a quick check of IMDB shows that the Charlene track does, in fact, appear in the film. So do OTHER cringe-inducing tracks like "Billy, Don't Be A Hero", "I Will Survive", "Go West" (the Village People song), "I Love The Night Life" and a couple of ABBA tunes. (kk)

>>>Running Memorial Day Weekend on CBS-FM in New York ... The Top 500 Artists. (Frank B.)
Here's the Top 25 of the Top 500 Artists of All-Time (60's // 70's // 80's )
25 = Bob Seger
24 = Temptations
23 = Three Dog Night
22 = Marvin Gaye
21 = Madonna
20 = Paul Mc Cartney
19 = Prince
18 = Bee Gees
17 = Supremes
16 = Rod Stewart
15 = Hall & Oates
14 = Steve Miller Band
13 = Beach Boys
12 = Doobie Brothers
11 = Stevie Wonder
10 = Chicago
9 = Fleetwood Mac
8 = Creedence Clearwater Revival
7 = Billy Joel
6 = Rolling Stones
5 = Michael Jackson
4 = Eagles
3 = Elton John
2 = Elvis
1 = Beatles
It's amazing to me . They left out the 50's (all of Elvis' big hits). Yet Elvis still comes in at #2. If they included the 50's & left out the 60's, do you think the Beatles would've done as well as Elvis did? I say no. What do you say?
Frank B.
Sadly, for the most part, radio has forgotten all about the '50's ... the biggest hits of Elvis' career are ignored now. (I keep reminding the deejays ... his career did not start with "Suspicious Minds" and end with "Burning Love" ... yet those are about the ONLY two Elvis songs you hear on the radio anymore ... and they play those two to death!!!) Or, worse yet, you get the 2002 remix of "A Little Less Conversation" ... how on earth is THAT considered an oldie?!?!? This song completely BOMBED the first time around! (#69 in 1968) 'cause NOBODY played it! Yet now the "remix" seems to be an oldies radio staple. And this is ESPECIALLY disturbing when you consider the fact that "A Little Less Conversation" is receiving regular airplay at the expense of ignoring legtimate, CLASSIC Elvis hits like "Heartbreak Hotel", "Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel", "Jailhouse Rock" and the 120 OTHER songs he placed on The Billboard Chart before 1969!!! Billboard seems to have adopted this same philosophy by re-naming the biggest hits of "The Hot 100 Era", which began in 1958, rather than the previously established "Rock Era" launched in 1955 ... thus eliminating at least 30 of Elvis' early hits, including nearly a dozen #1's!!! There wouldn't be rock and roll oldies to feature from the '60's and '70's were it not for early artists like Elvis, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and so many others.
For the record, Joel Whitburn updates HIS list of The Top 500 Artists every time he publishes a new edition of his "Top Pop Singles" Book ... and HIS point system takes into account an artists' entire Rock Era career. Concentrating only on the 1955 - 1979 artists (as we most often do here in Forgotten Hits ... although if their career extended beyond 1979, those points are also included in these totals) Whitburn's official Top 25 Artists are:
2 - THE BEATLES (nearly 4000 points behind The King Of Rock And Roll ... just as you expected they would be!)
8 - PAT BOONE (Good luck finding any of HIS music on the radio anymore ... although Scott Shannon DID feature "Love Letters In The Sand" as a Cheezy-Easy Listening Song last week ... and once again professed his affection for one of MY First 45's, "Speedy Gonzales"!!!)
(We eliminated Madonna, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston to arrive at this Top Ten since their biggest chart success came after 1979. Watch for Mariah Carey to move ahead of The Beatles into the #2 spot by the time this chart is next updated. WHAT?!?!? Mariah Carey was BIGGER than The Beatles?!?!? Honestly, NOBODY was bigger than Elvis and The Beatles ... but long-lasting careers ... and significantly longer "char life" for their releases ... by Mariah, Madonna and even Elton John have poised these artists to move ahead of The Fab Four in the not-too-distant future! Could ANYBODY ... other than possibly Michael Jackson ... truly deserve the high-ranking honor of holding down the #3 spot???)
(Thus reinforcing our ongoing bitch that HUGE artists like Pat Boone, Chicago, Neil Diamond and Connie Francis are still being ignored by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame!)
22 - FRANK SINATRA (Odds are HE'S never gonna make it either!!!)
Where do some of these other artists fall on Whitburn's list?
Bob Seger (#82), Three Dog Night (#100), Madonna (#4, but considered too new for our list), Prince (#17, also "too new"), Hall and Oates (#35), Steve Miller Band (#218 ... how the heck did THESE guys make The Top 25?!?!?), Doobie Brothers (#136), Fleetwood Mac (#102), Creedence Clearwater Revival (#184), Billy Joel (#34), Michael Jackson (#8 but we ruled him out as "too new" to include) and The Eagles (#99). Seems to me that any artist that's off by more than 100 points really doesn't deserve Top 25 status on CBS-FM's list ... because then it's just a popularity contest, not a chart-ranking! (kk)

re: WINDY CITY @ 6:

I tried listening to the new Chicagoland Oldies show you told us about (Jeff James' Windy City @ 6 Program on Y103.9 - kk) but I don't know that I'll be back - other than a couple of nice surprises by groups like the Ides of March, the American Breed and Chicago, I didn't recognize much of anything else. Even at only an hour, that's a long stretch to listen to music you've never heard (or heard of) before. Just not my cup of tea I'm afraid.

I've tuned in to Jeff James' new Windy City @ 6 program every night this week, hoping for the best --- and have come away with one conclusion --- the reason most of these songs didn't make it on the radio in the first place is because they flat out suck!!! I haven't heard anything even remotely resembling a "hit commercial sound" yet (other than the obvious tracks we already know by the Cryan' Shames, the Buckinghams, the New Colony Six, etc, etc, etc.) These other bands never had a chance of developing an audience -- their music just wasn't happening. And to devote such a large part of the program to playing material that nobody knows and nobody cares about most certainly spells the kiss of death in my book. Great idea -- but poorly executed -- I wonder what the big guns at the station are thinking right now -- kinda like putting Leno on five nights a week at 9 pm!
Jeff told me it took him four years to sell the big wigs on putting this show on the air ... and I think you're right ... it DOES play better on paper than it does in practicality. That being said, I STILL say there's a solution ... but it'll involve some compromise. I, too, have tuned it to at least part of the show every night ... and come away bewildered by much of what I've heard ... just TOO many songs that aren't recognizable and, as such, we don't yet have any affection for. And you're right, for the most part, it just isn't commercial sounding and won't hold much appeal to a mass audience. Simply put, just because it came from Chicago DOESN'T mean it was any good! I say pare it down ... concentrate on the stuff that you REALLY believe in ... stuff that you think the audience will best respond to ... and then do a "Jeff's Picks" segment once every half hour ... introduce us to a song we mostly likely haven't heard before ... but will want to hear again ... and fill the REST of the hour with the material we grew up loving here in The Windy City. I will say this ... Jeff James plays, WITHOUT QUESTION, the best selection of oldies variety on commercial radio today ... listen to the All Request Live Drive at 5 and you will come away amazed on a daily basis by some of what he's chosen for his listeners ... ALL bona fide hits that haven't been played on the radio in YEARS ... DECADES!!! There is NO doubt in my mind that he's on to something here ... I just think he may have pushed the envelope a little TOO far out of the box on this Chicago Rock thing. However, there is no denying his passion for this music ... and we commend him for giving us the local programming slant ... let's face it, other than the occassional tributes on Bob Stroud's "Rock And Roll Roots" program, nobody ELSE in town seems as interested in promoting our Chicagoland musical heritage ... and that includes WLS, which aired all of this great music the first time around! (kk)

Thank you SO much for turning me on to Y103.9's Windy City @ 6 Program ... I LOVE IT!!! These are many of the artists that we used to flock (pun intended) to see in the clubs back in the day who never got their due on the radio with a hit record. Three cheers for Jeff James for digging deep into his personal collection to bring us some tracks that I'd venture to say very few people have ever heard before. I'm a transplanted Chicagoan, but I grew up in The Windy City in the '60's and '70's, and I am LOVING this new show. Jeff, please know that you've now got a loyal listener all the way out in Colorado listening to you every night. And thanks again to Forgotten Hits for telling us all about it.

Remember how excited you were when you made that rare garage-sale record find, and you had to tell all your friends and have them listen?
Remember how your friends may have listened politely, but they really didn't care?
I checked out Y103's "Windy City at 6" this evening and I'm afraid that's where this show is headed. Which is a shame because that show comes thisclose to being an excellent oldies program. It was great to hear Roller Coaster, Car Hop, Midnight Hour by the Messengers and the all-time highest charting Chicago hit (#2) that did not chart at all on the Hot 100 (not even bubbling under) I Need Love by Peoria's Third Booth. But a large part of the show was songs that did not even scrape the bottom of the Chicago charts. Definitely a cause for tuning out by the mainstream audience.
Here's my suggestion. Get Ron Smith's WLS and WCFL books and take about 95% (give or take) of your program from these books. If the bulk of your show is music that was actually a hit in Chicago, your audience may indulge you the occasional garage-sale find. I would hate to see this show go under. I enjoyed the uncharted obscurities, but there were just too many for me, and I'm a 60's-Chicago-music geek. I shudder to think how a normal person would react.
Ed Erxleben
I think we're speaking the same language here, Ed ... and I really do believe that if presented in smaller doses, the average listener will indulge a complete obscurity from time to time ... but Jeff needs to concentrate on the WINNERS ... don't feel the need to play EVERYTHING just because you have these rare records in your collection ... be a bit more discriminating ... look at this as the opportunity twice a night to introduce us to something that'll knock our socks off. I say kudos to Jeff James for making one segment of his program ALL about Chicago ... there's really nothing else like this on the radio anymore, with SUCH a "local feel" ... we truly did have our own sound back then and I have always maintained that this music fit right in alongside the biggest hits of the day ... but I'm referring to the HITS!!! (kk)

When I told Jeff James about the type of feedback we'd been receiving so far regarding his new program, he had this to say:
In regards to the obscure tracks - - - I have been listening after the first couple days and yep - adjusted the list but as far as response = fantastic! People have been asking for the obscure stuff and before I began posting the playlists, they had been asking what song was that - - where can I get this song - what was that - have not heard that one ever but I have to get it, etc, etc, etc.
Like anything new, this will take some time and there will always be some tweaking -- but between you and me - once corporate gave me the green light - you know me - I was like a kid in the candy store.

It's still a work in progress but I am lovin every minute of it!
Jeff James
You can find that list, telling you which songs he has been featuring on the program, on the brand new, special Windy City @ 6 Page on the Y103.9 website ... all the details here:
Click here: The Windy City @ 6 - Y103.9
You'll ALSO find a "Listen Live" link on the website ... allowing you to draw your own conclusions! Keep rockin', Jeff!