Sunday, October 21, 2012


After our most recent Radio Rave-Out, I figured I had said my piece ... give it a rest ... maybe it was overkill already. Then I went out to the car to head off to work, turned on the radio and heard "Levon" by Elton John ... changed the channel and hit "Come Together" by The Beatles ... hit it again and landed on "More Than A Feeling" by Boston ... started laughing and pushed it one more time, only to find "Jack And Diane" by John Mellencamp.   

Nope ... I hadn't misrepresented anything ... I was right on the money ... four in a row from our "Grossly Over-Played" List. I finally switched it over to B-96 ... yes, I have reached that sad, low point in my life where listening to Carly Rae Jepsen is the preferable alternative to listening to what today passes as classic hits radio.   

Coming home thirteen hours later I found "Fly Like An Eagle" by The Steve Miller Band ... hit it again (very quickly this time) to find "Cold As Ice" by Foreigner ... and then "More Than A Feeling" (again).   

Frustrated I decided I would give this one more try.  

I pushed another button and there was "Jack And Diane", playing for what was probably the fifth or sixth time today ... I quickly slammed another button and went right into "R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A." ... oh boy, Mellencamp on two stations at the same time.  Now THAT'S variety on the dial!!!   

Finally, in an exhausted state of pure desperation I gave it one more shot ... "Pink Houses" by John Mellencamp. THREE stations!!!  I sighed ... and then I turned it off for good.  

And, as if all of this isn't enough reason to just leave the radio off forever, this weekend, the newly revamped WLS-FM is hosting a Twin Spin Weekend ... which means TWICE as much Steve Miller, TWICE as much Journey and TWICE as much John Mellencamp as usual. (Somebody please kill me now!)   

As much as I complain, please know that this problem isn't confined to Chicago Radio ... this is nothing short of a nationwide epidemic! I don't care where you live ... or how much you travel ... you will hear these exact same songs and these exact same artists EVERYWHERE you go ... and, for the most part, not much other than these same songs and artists ... with little time devoted to anything else that might even remotely hint at variety, personality or entertainment.   

And, before we go any further, let me just state for the record that I am NOT picking on John Mellencamp ... I LOVE the guy and his music ... I bought every album he made through 1999's "Rough Harvest" ... I own 18 of his albums in all ... and have seen him in concert three times ... so it's nothing personal ... and I know that NONE of this is his fault or his doing ... but I cannot help but wonder if he even realizes how the medium that once did so much to advance his career is now slowing and meticulously destroying it. 

I'm sure that in the big picture, John Mellencamp is quite pleased by all of the royalties he must be earning, having his music played virtually 24/7 on every single radio station in the country ... but does he realize that radio is slowly turning him into one of the most hated and despised artists on the dial? Does he realize that this has gone WAY beyond the scope of "over-exposure" and landed smack dab in the middle of the Insanity Zone??? And seriously, with the money he must be making by way of all this airplay, does he REALLY think he holds any credibility with his fans anymore when he performs on stage with torn and tattered jeans?!?!? (I'm just sayin'!!!) 

Remember when "Hurts So Good" first came out? It was the BEST song on the radio, hands down. A hard-driving tune that showcased Mellencamp at his rocking best. And now they play it on The Lite!!! They play it on the soft rock stations ... the mix ... the oldies stations ... the classic rock stations ... the classic hits stations ... and they play it upwards of four to five times a day!!! (Seriously, when John wrote this song did he EVER think for a moment that "Hurts So Good" would become a playlist highlight of The Lite?!?!?)  The line has become so blurred that now this song fits everywhere ... simply because John Mellencamp is one of the artists on "the list" ... the list of who gets played ... which means that we, the listeners, now get to hear it everywhere we turn.  (Hey John ... remember when you used to sing "Don't wanna be no Pop Singer"??? What happened???)  

A week or two ago, Mellencamp actually issued a statement to let the public know that he has absolutely NO connection to the new movie that's out called "Jack And Diane", a marketing move clearly trying to cash-in on the familiarity factor of John's famous #1 Song. How can you escape it? I hear they're actually considering a "Jack And Diane" radio channel! 24/7 ... anytime you need to hear it, it'll be there. (Oh wait ... it looks like we already have that!!!) 

I would think Mellencamp himself would be BEGGING the radio stations to give his music a rest ... they're RUINING your career!!! (We know this isn't his fault ... it's not his doing ... but certainly he MUST have some thoughts on this matter!)   

In the meantime, we've devised a few new games to help you retain at least some sense of sanity about this whole matter. If nothing else, these little exercises may help you cope better with the sad state of radio today.  

Game #1 is a game you can play in your car.  

Pick your six favorite radio stations that play contemporary and classic hits ... the above mix of classic rock, classic hits, oldies, soft rock and "the mix" will work perfectly ... these buttons are probably already set in your car anyway. 

Next, start a score sheet ... list your six favorite radio stations and award them each five points ... this way everybody starts the game on a level playing field.

Then EVERY time you hear one of the songs and artists listed on our "Grossly Over-Played" List (list is reprinted below), deduct one point from the radio station that's playing it ... push a button and move on. Deduct a point from each and every radio station that plays any tune on the list. (Last week when we road-tested this game, we found that we could push four buttons in a row and land on a "G O/P" song every time!)  

Then, when a radio station plays something else that you actually enjoy listening to, ADD a point to that station's tally. And ... if they ever play one that prompts you to say out loud "Wow! I haven't heard THAT song in FOREVER!!!", award them FIVE POINTS for programming outside the box. (We heard one earlier this evening when Y103.9 played "Suavecito" by Malo. Of course we had to sit through nine other songs that are on the G O/P List to get to this one ... but it was almost worth it!)  

Keep this score sheet for a week ... carry it with you everywhere you go (or simply leave it in the car so it's always handy) ... and record each event as it happens so you don't forget and are able to produce an accurate accounting.   

Then, at the end of the week, see if ANY station on your list has a score that isn't a negative number. (My guess is that virtually ALL of them will be -20 to -30 in a matter of days.) Now you have the information you need to make an informed decision.

You can pick the station that is the lesser of all evils (even though that station may have a -15 rating of its own!) or you can load the car up with CD's and turn the radio off for good. And, if by SOME miracle you wind up with a station with a positive score, PLEASE drop us a line so we can promote this station in our newsletter. (Internet stations don't count ... they're already playing a FAR better mix than the know-it-all honchos running terrestrial radio are allowing on the air.) This game is designed to be played around your regular daily commute listening experience.   

Game #2 - This is a game you can play at home.

It's a variation of one of those college dorm games where you tune in your radio to your favorite classic hits station, invite a bunch of friends over, sit in a circle and then every time they play one of the songs and artists on our G O/P List, you drink a shot. 

Do NOT play THIS game in your car!!!  

It is designed to ONLY be played in the comfort of your own home!!! (I felt it was probably safest to add this disclaimer ... as bad as radio is today, we certainly don't want to lose any readers over it!)

Continue this practice until only one of you hasn't passed out and then declare that person the winner.
(My guess is that within 20 minutes most of you will already be in such a drunken stupor that you won't even care if another REO, Phil Collins or Journey song comes on. In fact, you may find that this altered state of consciousness may be the most preferred method to digest this steady stream of endless mindless programming!)  

Game #3 - 
And this is the most important game of all. 

Call ... Write ... and Email your radio stations and tell them ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! Seriously ... they want "research"??? Let's give them RESEARCH! But I'm talking about REAL research from REAL listeners who are fed up with this ridiculous practice and have had enough of this insulting mix of music.  

I'd still like to see the "research" that shows that most Americans listening to the radio PREFER to hear 14 Steve Miller songs per day, 12 Journey songs per day, 8 Supertramp and REO Speedwagon songs per day, etc, etc. ... I want to SEE this research.  

The research I have seen asks you to rate the music that the station is already playing in a "like it, love it, hate it" ranking system.  They don't ask you what you might like to hear instead ... they simply ask you what you think about the music they're already cramming down your ears.  While it may ask you which songs you're tired of hearing, nowhere on the survey is there a place to write in "All of Them"!!! 

Wanna hear the best one of all? A very well-known and well-respected radio programmer once actually told me, and this is the God's-honest truth, when I questioned him about this so-called research and programming strategy:    

"Well it MUST be right ... or why else would everybody be doing it."  


Can you BELIEVE that?!?!?

And THAT, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with radio today.  

This is when I realized that radio may be beyond saving.   

Let your voice be heard ... consider this a grass roots campaign to CHANGE the face of radio FOREVER!!!  

Let's give them some REAL research ... but you've ALL got to do it ... you need to call your radio stations ... ask for the program director or general manager ... email the station and address it to their attention ... write letters and BOMBARD these stations, letting them know how the listeners REALLY feel!!! Do It ... and get EVERYBODY else you know to do it, too.   

We can't go to the jocks on the list for this campaign because they have to support whatever their station is telling them to do, like it or not (although virtually every single one of them ... to the man ... has told me "off the record" that I am 100% right with my assessment as to the state of radio today ... and that they WISH that they could say what I'm saying ... because they're as sick of these tunes as we are!) 

But we CAN go to the Internet jocks ... of which we probably have close to 200 on the list ... and ask THEM to help spread this campaign. Go on your shows and tell your listeners about what we're trying to do. 

Thanksgiving Weekend marks the 13th Anniversary of Forgotten Hits ... we want to make the statement nationally that we have been trying to make for the past thirteen years ... radio needs to CHANGE in order to survive!!! Go on the air and tell them to call, write and email their radio stations, nationwide, and DEMAND a change in programming. Have them come to The Forgotten Hits website and read our rants and raves ... let us rile them up enough to get them on the bandwagon. PLEASE use your programs and your forums to help lend credence to our campaign.  

And we've got plenty of OTHER media folks on the list, too. We NEED YOUR SUPPORT ... use whatever avenues are available to you ... your columns, your blogs, your broadcasts ... to let readers and radio listeners know that we are instituting a change in the way radio is currently being programmed. We need to let these decision-makers know that (to borrow a well-worn phrase) "We're Mad As Hell And We're Not Going To Take It Anymore"!!! I'm talking about guys like Chet Coppock, Bob Sirott, Robert Feder, Bob Greene and all the others who regularly read and support Forgotten Hits ... get on the bandwagon and help us make this change. Tell your readers and your listeners that there is a campaign afoot to CHANGE the direction of mindless radio programming ... let them know that we are sending a message. We will NOT be insulted by the ignorance anymore.  

In order to make this happen, we NEED your support.

We can do this (or, at the very least, we can certainly stir up a whole lotta ruckus in the meantime, drawing attention to this sad, sad situation.) But we need your help.  

Start today ... and then do it again tomorrow ... do it all week ... do it EVERY week until we start to see a change.  Send the message ... let it be heard ... spread the word. Tell everybody you know to jump on the bandwagon. The time for change has come.

By the way ... my name is Kent Kotal ... owner and publisher of Forgotten Hits ... and I approve this message.  

Here is your "Official Score Card" from 

THE STEVE MILLER BAND: The Joker, Take The Money And Run, Rock 'n' Me, Fly Like An Eagle, Jet Airliner, Jungle Love, Swingtown and Abracadabra  

JOHN MELLENCAMP: I Need A Lover, Hurts So Good, Jack and Diane, Crumblin' Down, Pink Houses, The Authority Song, Lonely Ol' Night, Small Town, R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A., Cherry Bomb  

BILLY JOEL: Piano Man, Only The Good Die Young, My Life, Big Shot, You May Be Right, It's Still Rock And Roll To Me   

ELTON JOHN: Your Song, Levon, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Crocodile Rock, Daniel, Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Bennie And The Jets, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, The Bitch Is Back, Philadelphia Freedom, Little Jeannie, Candle In The Wind, I'm Still Standing 

JOURNEY: Anytime, Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin', Any Way You Want It, Who's Crying Now, Don't Stop Believin', Open Arms, Separate Ways  

FOREIGNER: Feels Like The First Time, Cold As Ice, Hot Blooded, Waiting For A Girl Like You, Juke Box Hero, I Want To Know What Love Is 

SUPERTRAMP: Bloody Well Right, Give A Little Bit, The Logical Song, Goodbye Stranger, Take The Long Way Home  

BRYAN ADAMS: Straight From The Heart, Cuts Like A Knife, Run To You, Heaven, Summer of '69

FLEETWOOD MAC: Over my Heard, Rhiannon, Say You Love Me, Go Your Own Way, Dreams, Don't Stop, You Make Loving Fun, Tusk, Sara, Hold Me, Gypsy, Little Lies, Silver Spring, Landslide, Gold Dust Woman, The Chain ... and "Edge Of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks 

QUEEN: Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, You're My Best Friend, Somebody To Love, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Another One Bites The Dust, Under Pressure   

REO SPEEDWAGON: Keep On Loving You, Ridin' The Storm Out, Time For Me To Fly, Take It On The Run, Can't Fight This Feeling   

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS: Listen To The Music, Black Water, Long Train Runnin', China Grove, Take Me In Your Arms, Takin' It To The Streets, Rockin' Down The Highway, Minute By Minute 

THE EAGLES: Take It Easy, Witchy Woman, Peaceful, Easy Feeling, Already Gone, Best Of My Love, One Of These Nights, Lyin' Eyes, Take It To The Limit, New Kid In Town, Hotel California, Life In The Fast Lane, Heartache Tonight, The Long Run ... plus "Boys Of Summer" by Don Henley and "Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh   

PAT BENATAR: Heartbreaker, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Promises In The Dark, Shadows Of The Night, Love Is A Battlefield, We Belong  

PHIL COLLINS: You Can't Hurry Love, In The Air Tonight, Easy Lover, One More Night, Another Day In Paradise (plus the Genesis songs That's All and Misunderstanding)   

SANTANA: Black Magic WOman, Oye Como Va, Smooth, Evil Ways   

.38 SPECIAL: Hold On Loosely and Caught Up In You 

DIRE STRAITS: Sultans of Swing, Money For Nothing, Walk Of Life, So Far Away  

LED ZEPPELIN: Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Rock And Roll, D'yer Mak'er, Stairway To Heaven and, seriously, at least another dozen LP tracks that seem to be sprinkled throughout the week   

TOM PETTY: Breakdown, Don't Do Me Like That, The Waiting, You Got Lucky, Don't Come Around Here No More, I Won't Back Down, Free Fallin'   

CHEAP TRICK: Surrender, I Want You To Want Me, Dream Police, The Flame   

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Born To Run, Hungry Heart, Dancing In The Dark, Cover Me, Born In The U.S.A., Glory Days, Brilliant Disguise   

BOB SEGER: Night Moves, Rock And Roll Never Forgets, Still The Same, Hollywood Nights, We've Got Tonight, Old Time Rock And Roll, Against The Wind, Like A Rock   

THE DOORS: Light My Fire, Touch Me, Hello, I Love You, Love Me Two TImes, Love Her Madly, Riders on the Storm   

ASSORTED TRACKS: "Come Together" by The Beatles, "Stuck In The Middle" by Stealers Wheel, "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas, "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire, "Takin' Care Of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, "Take On Me" by A-Ha and "More Than A Feeling" by Boston.