Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Is An Oldie? (Part 7)

Hey Kent ...
Here are my answers to your "Oldies" questions:
>>>What do YOU want to hear on your oldies station?
Music that helped to shape our lives. Music that brings back the smells and the tastes of our childhood,teen years,adulthood.
What are YOUR expectations?
To be entertained in a way that evokes a warm feeling of "being there" when it happened.
What drives you away?
Less variety ... playlists that satisfy program directors with no respect given at all to their listening public ... we love "Yesterday", but play some of the great records that never seem to get airplay anymore ... there are a lot of them.
What keeps you coming back?
The stations that I listen to ... mainly Internet stations and a few public stations ... keep me coming back because of their open mindedness and variety. They play those "deep cuts" that most of the majors tend to ignore.
What are your favorite features?
Artist features ... like a Beatles weekend, a Beach Boys weekend, a Teen Idol weekend, etc.
What would you like to hear MORE of ... less of ... c'mon, America!
More variety and more "deep cuts" ... there are so many hits ... many of them former #1's ... that NEVER get played on the Radio anymore.

That's my opinion, Kent ... thanks for bringing this topic up. It needs to be addressed.
Long live the great music!
Mitch Schecter / The Rip Chords

An "Oldie", simply put, is a song that makes you conjure up your youth and compels you to recall a specific period in your life. All people have their personal oldies list and it may not be relative to your own. For the most part, genuine oldies belong to the 50's and 60's but today's youth would relate to those as I would relate to Cab Calloway. The youth of today that can relate to our oldies list can only do so because they grew up in a house where their parents superglued the radio dial on the oldies station. 100% my humble opinion.
Alex Valdez / Yellow Balloon

>>>What are the oldies stations doing wrong? (kk)
They play remakes!!!! Like on WBCB-AM, playing Johnny Cash, "Ring Of Fire", yesterday morning - it was not the "hit" version!!!
It's easy to spot amateurs in radio - just listen what they play!!
On WRDV-FM (PA), the DJ mentioned, then played a song by "Al Martino". However, a listener had to call in and correct him ... because it was really Jerry Vale!!!
Now, maybe why the "Jack-FM" system is preferred! :-)
After listening for a bit to Hy Lit's web radio back when, it proves Sam Lit can't tell an original version from a remake!!! Maybe a bit before his time, but still!!!
They should all know better ... like Scott Shannon's "House Of Remakes"!
So few actually tell you what they are playing - the source!!! You know, what CD / LP / 45!!?? Excuse, me, or what MP3 they found!!

Jersey John
I agree that if you're going to DO an oldies show, it should be the AUTHENTIC, original versions that are featured ... and, in order to come across as believable doing it, the deejay really has to know the difference. We hear remakes slipped in from time to time ... and we recently gave Y103.9's Jeff James special kudos for actually pulling one of them off the air mid-song a few weeks back. (It was something by The Everly Brothers and evidently whatever was in the computer was a '60's remake rather than the Cadence original ... very obvious to me from the word go. Jeff even went so far as to say that this is why he brings his own vinyl to play at the station ... because you just can't trust what's in the computer these days.) During The Drive's recent "History Of Rock And Roll" special, I noticed the wrong version of Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame" being played, too. Unfortunately, this is just going to continue to happen more and more often ... as the label honchos get younger, most of them were not around when this music first happened ... so they don't know Take 1 from Take 34 ... and unless these tapes are properly cataloged and categorized, we're going to get more and more "false" versions out there. True, there is a market for "alternate takes" ... and clearly this is the kind of stuff you strive for in your own collection ... but I think if a deejay is going to play something other than the hit on the radio they should first preface this by saying something about it. (A few years back a CD of Elvis' #1 Hits came out ... with the wrong version of "The Wonder of You" on the disk ... as their all-time golden cash cow, wouldn't you think RCA Records would have known which track to use?!?! That goes WAY beyond embarrassing!) kk

Oldies format radio stations are largely voice-tracked, playing a repetitive unimaginative playlist.

1st of all my bonifides:
In business since the fall of 1980. Worked country, AC, Top 40, Beautiful, Contempo, Drake / Chenault, light rock, Classic Cuts, and Radio Disney bubblegum.
In my day I've seen the oldies term go from everything from a sliver on the rotation clock to an honest to God format.
Traditionally, the term Oldie in my estimation is a period from the broadcast origins of rock and roll as defined by payola king Alan Freed. To the end of the 1960s.
Prior to Freed's nomenclature moment, it is the Music of Your Life, capturing everything from the big band era to rock and roll.
After the Oldies period (1970s on to perhaps the 90s) is Classic rock. This excludes light rock, and disco naturally.
Re-currents are the last 5 to 10 years and Contemporary up to 5 years.
In a world of Jack and Request Orientation Formats, I personally feel now 10 years into the 21st century we need to redefine all this. Music of the 1900s should now be called 20th Century music then broken into genres across that century.
And our 21st century oldies now are truly songs over 8-10 years old.
Just my 25 cents
Travis Medcalf
(Referred by Buck Lam)
Welcome aboard, Travis. Part of what's been wrong with radio for the past 25 years is this feeling of need to categorize everything ... segregating anything that might deviate from the format in even the slightest of ways. I keep leaning more and more toward the "Music For The Ages" concept ... now you don't have to categorize ANYTHING ... it ALL fits, played side by side. Or why not "Top 20 Radio" ... but the catch is you actually have to play EVERYTHING that was a Top 20 Hit. Sure, you'd still have heavy and medium rotation ... and you could still leave hundreds and hundreds of songs to be featured as "Wow's" ... but imagine a radio station that actually lived up to its name ... delivered what it advertised ... "We're Top 20 Radio, dammit, and that's what we're gonna play!!!" Boy what a concept!!! (kk)


According to noted Chicagoland Radio Columnist Robert Feder, it's Oldies Radio War here in Chicago ... although, quite honestly, I'm not all that impressed with what I'm hearing on the new K-Hits / WJMK ... the high-energy, modern-day sound of deejay patter on the station just doesn't work with the oldies format in my mind (no matter WHAT WLS General Manager Michael Damsky says ... that's not the sound we want blasting in our ears!) ... and, quite frankly, so far they seem to be playing the same tired oldies list as everybody else with even MORE emphasis on the '80's.

Meanwhile, Scott Shannon's 10 am - 3 pm slot on WLS-FM has now become more "localized" ... he regularly gives out the station's call letters and seems to have "custom fit" his program for the Chicagoland audience, even mentioning the other jocks on the station as well as our local promotions. As a MAJOR flagship station of The True Oldies Channel Network, this is a REAL plus for WLS ... without question Shannon is the most listenable jock in their line-up.

Unjustly left off of Feder's list of Chicagoland Oldies Stations is Y103.9 ... although they're a weak-signaled suburban station, they are (without question) playing the best mix of oldies in Chicago right now BY FAR ... "Wow" songs pop up all day long ... which is VERY refreshing (when you can pick up the signal! For the record, they also stream online where the sound is crystal clear.)

Here's Robert Feder's recap:

Even the national industry trade "Ross On Radio" is giving Chicagoland kudos for embracing the oldies format ... but check out the feedback posted from the readers already ... mind you, these aren't comments that WE received ... these are comments posted to Robert Feder's recent Oldies War article ... they come from the folks here in Chicago who actually LISTEN to the oldies. (Seems to me, we're ALL singing the same song ... why isn't anybody listening?!?!?) kk
I hope that Scott Shannon plays more of the less famous oldies that I hear on XM (or, at least, I hear until my free time runs out). Although they frequently get their decades badly confused, XM does not ignore the 50s.
I’ve been a steady listener to whatever Chicago station played oldies (remember WFYR?). As a former oldies jock on Armed Forces Radio, myself, I hope that Scott is a huge success … thereby inviting lots of competition.
John McHugh
The "oldies format" has been around since the early '70's here in Chicago and it has always done well, with a VERY loyal and passionate audience ... before Magic 104 / WJMK, we had WFYR (The Great Chicago Fire!) ... and does anybody remember WGLD ... "solid gold"??? Think about it ... when oldies radio first started in the early '70's, all they had to play was the music of the '50's and the '60's ... and they played the heck out of these songs, thus establishing the format and introducing many of us (myself included) to the music we missed the first time around. Why radio now feels a need to incorporate so much of the late '70's, the '80's and now even the '90's and call it "oldies" is beyond me ... and, apparently, most of our readers seem to agree! (kk)

I’m bored of oldies or should I say “the same old oldies” – OMG please expand the playlists.
Ted (with Pete ... and Repeat)
Wake up, America!!! (kk)
I would like True Oldies 94.7 to start playing the oldies listeners haven’t heard for a long time. True oldies plays the same oldies instead of playing a bigger variety.
Thaddeus Budzynski
If I owned a radio station, I would hire Bob Stroud to program it, with instructions to concentrate on what was popular in THIS town during the 60’s and 70’s. No song should be repeated more than once a week. They should have a play list of 5,000, not 500.
Good Old Number Nine
Two oldies stations could thrive if one focuses on the 50s and early 60s or at least 50s, 60s and early 70s and the other focuses on late 60s through ‘89. And I agree that the play list needs to be 2000-5000 songs, not 200-500.
I’m all for some different oldie songs as so many others stated. Same old gets old after awhile. How about a 24/7 request line like Dick Biondi’s Friday night request party? I sooo love that show because it is truly the only time on radio you can hear songs that are generally not played on a regular basis by our beloved Dick Biondi!!
Darlene Silvestri
And, from this week's in-depth oldies commentaries published by Gary Theroux and Ron Smith, we received THESE comments:
I absolutely loved Gary Theroux's definition of an oldie and all he had to say about music.
I completely agree.

I want you to know that I have read Gary Theroux's analysis of what an "oldie" is, would you believe, three times since I got home today. To me, this is the ultimate definition of what an "oldie" is or maybe should be.
Larry Neal
It's an honor to have music scholars like Gary Theroux and Ron Smith contribute their opinions on this topic to our forum ... here's hoping SOMEBODY out there is paying attention!!! (kk)

And, from the guys themselves:
Gee, I kinda agreed with that Theroux guy, too. And I like what Ron had to say.
Gary Theroux
My Forgotten Hits interview comments are guaranteed to ensure I will never work in radio again!
Ron Smith