Monday, March 21, 2011

What Is An Oldie? (Part 10)

We'll put this series to bed later this week ... but first, a few final comments from our readers ...

Haven't responded yet but want to voice your opinion on this topic?

Then send me an email PRONTO, Tonto ... and we'll see if we can still fit it into the mix! ( is the address to use!) Let your voice be heard: WHAT IS AN OLDIE?


>>>True story: the other night I got out of work late (AGAIN!) and was driving home a little after seven o'clock. I turned on the radio (The True Oldies Channel ... button #1) and they were playing "Night Moves" by Bob Seger. Now I mean no disrespect to Mr. Seger, but this is NOT one of my favorites by him ... so I pushed the button, taking me over to Y103.9 ... and THEY were playing "Night Moves" by Bob Seger. Honestly, this isn't even all that unusual of a circumstance ... it happens FAR more often than you might think ... so I hit the button AGAIN, switching over to The Drive ... and THEY were playing "Night Moves" by Bob Seger. There was simply no escaping this song! The fact that these three stations (and probably half a dozen more in Chicago alone) program this song into their regular play list shows you how seriously LACKING of variety radio really is these days. There is absolutely NOTHING here to distinguish one channel from another ... at some point, they all sort of blend together into one numb background hum that we don't even really listen to anymore ... it's all become "surface noise" ... making it all that much more likely that if somebody actually had something new or interesting to SAY on the radio, we may not even recognize it or hear it! (kk)

Oldies Radio may be surprised by what they find out during the course of our little "What Is An Oldie?" poll ... and we encourage our radio partners to promote this as well ... invite The True Oldies Nation to participate and find out what your listeners REALLY think about what you play ... and what they want and expect from their favorite radio station ... several of the comments included in this series come from other oldies radio posting boards so they are not confined to our readership ... the thoughts and opinions expressed here reflect the many, not the few ... and as such, this little venture is GUARANTEED to squash ANY marketing research that's been going on for the past 30 years. (The biggest thing wrong with the research? They poll their listeners on the SAME 200-300 songs each time ... they never add anything NEW into the mix. So while a survey like this might determine that a song like "Stand By Me" has fallen out of favor with the listening audience ... and therefore should only be played four times a day instead of eight ... they aren't offering the listeners any viable alternative to replacing this song on the radio.)

And seriously ... how did "Baby Hold On" and "Two Tickets To Paradise" by Eddie Money become part of "The Greatest Hits of All-Time" scenario? I swear, I hear (and turn these songs off) at least three or four times a day ... they're late '70's "hits" that only reached #11 and #22 respectively ... yet HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of REAL, HONEST TO GOD Number One, Top Ten and Top Twenty Hits are ignored day after day after day in favor of playing stuff that some consultant determined was one of the greatest hits of all time! (For the record, Bob Seger's "Night Moves" reached #4 on the Billboard Chart ... not bad ... and, without a doubt, well deserving of both oldies AND classic rock airplay. "Old Time Rock And Roll" (which only reached #28 when it was first released back in 1979 ... hardly HUGE, "Greatest Hit" material) ... has been played to death for the past 30 years to the point that just about everybody I know turns it off now ... it's become '"cliche'" rock ... kinda like "Hurt So Good" by John Mellencamp ... at one time, these songs WERE considered thumpin' rock and roll ... but they've become SO watered down now with such saturated airplaly that both turn up regularly on the soft rock / eay listening stations now, too! Who would have EVER dreamed that this would happen some 30 years ago when they were a couple of the rockin'-est tunes on the radio!!! I guess the image of Tom Cruise lip-synching in his underwear inspired quite a few new listeners to discover Seger's song over the years ... but it hardly belongs in "heavy rotation" for going on 30-years straight!!! What about OTHER great Bob Seger tunes like his first hit "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" (#17, 1969); "Mainstreet" (#24, 1977); "Still The Same" (#4, 1978); "Fire Lake" (#6, 1980); "Shame On The Moon" (#2, 1983) and "Like A Rock" (#12, 1986)? ... can't we give some of THESE legitmate hits a spin once in a while instead? Why even his one and only official chart-topper, "Shakedown" (from 1987) is rarely played on the radio anymore ... how, what and who determine the fate of some soon-to-be-forgotten classics by force-feeding us the same old same old day after day, all day long?

Don't get me wrong ... I get it ... radio is SUPPOSED to make a profit ... it IS, after all, a BUSINESS ... and the larger audience it can reach, the better chance it has of doing so ... so you have to appeal to the masses rather than cater to the few. The revenue radio generates comes from attracting sponsors ... selling ads ... and marketers want to appeal to a specific demographic, which has greatly diluted what we, the listeners, get to hear on the radio these days. So now the entire listening audience gets subjected to the same music ... and the same ads ... at nearly every stop on the dial ... variety, creativity and entertainment have become lowly regarded incidentals to the bottom line ... radio is not about the music ... it's about the money!

In fact, one could argue ... and many have ... that radio is "all about the money" ... but even that's not exactly true ... more accurately, radio is ONLY about the money ... and WHAT they play seems to have become one of the least-important considerations ... as long as people continue to tune in, who cares. And, for the most part, in any given city, they're all competing for a share of the same audience. But if EVERYBODY in town is going to play the exact same music, then what's going to make YOUR radio station stand out ... especially in this day of automation, syndication and jock-free programming? If you're not going to capture listeners with your winning personality, then you damn well better have one hell of a play list ... because the truth is you can hear ALL of this stuff anywhere ... and EVERYwhere ... else! Read on. (kk)

Can any “insider” explain HOW some “oldies” get constant airplay, while others (which may have charted higher and sold more copies) get relegated to off-hours and “forgotten oldies” status?
That's a good question, Nina ... and thousands and thousands of listeners have been wondering the exact same thing for the past 20 years or so. The radio big-wigs will tell you that it's all based on their consultant research ... but clearly we know that this is all very jaded information ... read back through our ten part WHAT IS AN OLDIE? Series and ANYONE can see that ... assuming you take your "blinders" off first! (kk)

Went to the music store and asked for oldies rap. Guy asked if I wanted it on white or whole wheat!!! :-)

I love doo wop.
an oldie is anything I like.
the great and wonderful Malcolm

As bad as it is for K-HITS (what does K-Hits even mean) to play disco, they are talking over the end of songs way too early. Even if I liked the music they are playing, the jocks are as obnoxious as the ones in small-town radio. This is Chicago, the #3 market. What I am hearing on 104.3 wouldn’t pass for good in market #94.


I still maintain that this is because they don't KNOW the music ... in many cases, the jocks weren't even born yet (or still in diapers) when the hits of the '60s and '70s were first being played on the radio. K-Hits is PROOF POSITIVE that Michael Damsky's oldies concept is wrong ... if he needs any more evidence that his goal of presenting the oldies in a "modern light" on WLS-FM won't work, just tune into K-Hits for an hour and listen ... if you can stand it!!! (kk)

They need to start playing oldies on 94.7 and stop mixing it with the 70s and 80s music. If you’re a True Oldies Channel, then mean so by playing the hits of the 50s and 60s and Scott Shannon is not the solution as the format is tired and boring. Time to bring in a fresh face or two and play oldies the way it was meant to be played, Chicago-style, the way that Oldies 104.3 FM was at one time.


We received a number of comments like this over the past week, touting how GREAT Magic 104 and Real Oldies 1690 were ... but, of course, the obvious argument becomes "Then why aren't they on the radio anymore"??? And sadly, that's a tough argument to win. However, I feel that we have accurately presented what the REAL oldies fans want from their oldies station. If you're going to be so bold as to call yourself "oldies", then PLAY oldies!!! And NOT late '70's, '80's and '90's stuff. As such, our brand new motto has become:



John Landecker Played “The Pusher” by Steppenwolf (a Hoyt Axton classic), “Johnny Willow” by Fred Darian, and many lesser known songs (lesser known, but great) when he was on WJMK, and he probably always has played great lesser known songs. Anyone remember when Bob Greene was so excited to hear Bob Stroud play “Gone, Gone, Gone” by the Everly Brothers that he wrote a column about it? DJs know good music! Gutless, visionless idiot management / directors won’t let informed DJs play great songs; there is no good reason for that!

Incredibly, there WAS a time when deejays programmed their own shows ... and guess what ... it launched rock and roll!!! This is because THEY knew which songs struck a chord with their audience ... they had their fingers on the pulse of teenage America and often carried their own records to the station ... and then, when their air shift was over, they brought them home or to the record hops to give themselves a slight "exclusive" edge on their programs ... and, what do you know, rock and roll took off and grew and grew and grew. What do a bunch of suits programming the EXACT same music for 20 years really know about what the listeners want? What testing and experimenting have they done to see how far they can push the envelope? Radio seems hell-bent on being its own worst enemy! That's why we're going right to the oldies music fans with this little survey ... let us know what you want to hear ... and, quite honestly, the message has been delivered, LOUD AND CLEAR!!! (kk)

Great thoughts regarding recent postings.
So CBS says as an aging baby boomer I'm more affluent than I was at age 22. 39 years later, I don't have any more money now than I did then. At least I had a job then, even if it only paid $2.00/hr.
Scott wrote: "This sucks, I turn on 94.7 The Zone during my afternoon commute and they are playing friggin oldies".
See the bad image "oldies" name gives people!
"Oldies is a term commonly used to describe a
radio format that concentrates on a period 15 to 55 years before the present day."
BUT: "Oldies stations as we know them today did not really come into existence until the early 1970s. In the 1970s,
KOOL-FM in Phoenix, Arizona became one of the first radio stations to play oldies music"
So, there you have it!! Oldies = 15 to 55 years old! 14.9999 years does not cut it! 55 YEARS is the ULTIMATE MAXIMUM for Oldies!!! :-)

Ask a 15 year old. Ask a 20 year old. Ask a 30 year old. Ask a 40+ year old.
It's a matter of perspective ...
the definition is the same, the inclusion varies ...
From what I'm seeing, we're helping to redefine the term. Just 'cause it's old, doesn't make it an "oldie" ... read on! (kk)

Hi Kent,
As I read the comments from folks I love the idea of giving the oldies category to the first 25 years of R&R and let them come up with some hipper name for the stuff beyond.
I still can't figure out why a station keeps updating the format as time goes on. We have a station in the twin cities KQQL -- Cool 108 -- which was a fabulous Oldies station but now they have all but eliminated early Rock. We also have a station that plays The Music of your Life programming. It seems to stand on it's own catering to the Big Band era, Tin Pan Alley, Dean Martin and Sinatra fans. I love it. It's a great change. Never thought I'd listen to Percy Faith on purpose.
We need a first 25 years of Rock and Roll format. I like the Satelite channels, but lots of repetition going on there as well.

Each person has his own idea. I am 64. I also am a DJ out there in the clubs and bars, and doing society stuff ... weddings, proms, etc. An oldie is everything released from 1955, all the way up to the first time I ever heard a Beatle song on the radio ... the 50s, the 60s, the beginnings of Motown, all the girl songs like "He So Fine" by the Chiffons. Anything that came after the Beatles is NOT oldies. Yes, I agree that 70s, 80s, 90s, etc., are old songs, but in my world, they are not from the oldie era. So, oldies = 1955 - to the Beatles
Bill Donovan
This seems to be the predominant feeling ... from the dawn of Elvis to the break-up of The Beatles. Sure, there were rock "roots" songs before that ... and our NEXT challenge will be to determine the 100 Most Important Songs in Rock History BEFORE "Rock Around The Clock" went to #1, the date that most historians typically credit as the Dawn of The Rock and Roll Era.
(Honestly, based on my above statement, I wouldn't even count any of the SOLO Beatles records as oldies ... like I said earlier, we're REALLY narrowing the field here ... but based on this criteria, the ONLY solo Beatle recording that belongs on an oldies station is "Give Peace A Chance" by John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band ... and even then ONLY because it SO defined the universal theme of the '60's.

Stay tuned ... we are going to come up with the ULTIMATE Oldies Playlist before all of this is over!!! (lol) kk