Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Sunday Comments ( 11 - 04 - 12 )

re: ON THE RADIO:   

Your radio comments keep coming ... so we'll run a few more today ...   

It has been interesting reading your radio rants. I can't disagree with the comments. The bottom line is money and by cutting back on staff and letting computers run the show, radio has suffered. It is tough to tell a high school or college age student today that there will be a job waiting for them on the radio. It is tough to find that first level job even at a small market station because everything but the morning drive is automated. There are many stations that only employ a morning d.j., news person, and a few sales people.
There are still a few of us old schoolers, especially in the smaller markets, fighting to keep the business alive. Our station has a live person, instead of just a computer, running the show for 17 of the 24 hours. On my Saturday night show I still take requests and try to talk to everyone that calls. This past week a caller was trying to identify the song Abergavenny by Shannon. He told me a few lines and luckily I was able to figure it out. He hadn't heard it since the Summer of 1969! We have a local owner and he lets me bring my own cds. I try to play a few every Saturday night that I have never played on the show. That adds up to a lot of music over 26 plus years. There are specialty shows on other stations that don't just play the 'Jukebox From Hell' songs. Magic 98 (WMGN) in Madison, Wisconsin, has a program called Saturday At The 70's that features much more than the typical. The key thing about their show is that they are not automated and they let the djs drop in a few of their memories about a song or the era. There are a few of us out here that still have creative control. We are still trying to live the dream started by those great rock and roll stations like KAAY Little Rock, Arkansas, or WLS.
It is great to see some of the past WLS alumni checking in on your site. We could hear them here in Wisconsin late afternoons and all night long. Bob Sirott was one of my favorites. Didn't he do a bit called 'The B.S. Love Councelor' or did I dream that?
Phil Nee - WRCO
Nope, that was him! I first got hooked on Bob Sirott when he was with WBBM-FM, who actually took a run at being a Top 40 Radio Station in the early '70's. I remember being disappointed when I first heard that Bob was moving to WLS, even though I know it was a life-long dream for him to do so. (Some of you may remember Larry Lujack reading a letter he received from a VERY young, teenaged Bob Sirott on the air a few times, talking of his dreams to get into radio and how much he admired ol' Uncle Lar.) I think that part of me was afraid that my "personal discovery" of a top-notch entertainer was now going to be shared with the world at large and that Bob would have to bend and change his style to meet the corporate image and program format of a big gun powerhouse like WLS ... and, to a degree, that DID happen ... but he was still entertaining as hell ... and one of the best things on the air at the time. (Although we've spent a lot of time recently talking about how great WLS was back in the '60's, the '70's were also a winning period for 'LS ... Bob Sirott, the first-coming of John "Records" Landecker ... Brant Miller ... Fred Winston ... oh wait, I'm confused ... was that the 1974 line-up or what I was listening to yesterday?!?! (Actually, it's damn-near both!!!)
I remember getting up early in the morning just to be able to listen to Bob Sirott usher in the new 94.7  WLS-FM station after the demise of 'Disco 'DAI. (They signed off by playing "Last Dance" by Donna Summer continuously for 24 straight hours as their swan song!) And Bob was there to bring in the new station. But he always had higher aspirations and has since become a national television personality (although I think his deepest roots are still here in Chicago, where he's still part of the local Fox network. Ironically, after his stint on WLS, Brant Miller went on to make his mark on television, too.)
Jeff James did a GREAT "Saturday Night Live At The '70's" show here on Y103.9, where he'd often dip into his personal collection to play some things you didn't hear ANYWHERE else ... including a few that even I didn't recognize! (He still does his "From The Vault" series every day on YouTube via the Y103.9 website ... and we're still supposed to film a week's worth of B-Sides Episodes one of these days, too!)
Dick Biondi had a VERY popular All Request Friday Night show here until fairly recently where he played some of the most obscure tracks you've (n)ever heard! And Danny Lake (one of the most talented guys still at the station) does a credible job of handling an all-requests show on Saturday nights (but I feel that he, too, is sometimes limited by the "shrinking" playlist offered by the station.)
And, of course, we've worked together on several projects in the past in our efforts to make your "Those Were The Days" program stand out amongst the pack ... so, as I've said so many times before, I am ALWAYS willing and able to help support these programs that go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to bringing these forgotten hits to their listeners. ("Abergevanny" is a GREAT example of such a track ... we've featured it a few times here in Forgotten Hits but I'd venture to say that MOST people, much like your listener, probably haven't heard it since 1969 ... and this is yet ANOTHER Top 40 Hit ignored by radio that went all the way to #20 here in Chi-Town) ... all of which makes it another good one to feature today as part of our renewed commitment to bring our readers the very BEST of forgotten hits on a regular basis. (kk)

Hi Kent,
I've been reading the radio rants with great interest, having worked in and around the Chicago market. I may be able to shine some light on the issue of endless repeats of familiar, good testing oldies and the demise of the oldies format in general.
The short answer to the problem is that by and large the lights are on and nobody is home.
Mega owners own clusters of stations in each market. The people they pay to maximize their budgets tell them to cram seven stations into a facility designed for two stations max. These same people tend to believe that some stations are destined (and programmed) to win and others to lose. In the shuffle, one station is generally relegated to office space roughly equivalent to the size of the glove box in the prize van of some other (winning) station.
Stations are thus not so much competing with stations owned by others in the market, but rather for resources within one facility, like pigs competing for teats.
In some markets, with some owners, the choice for "winner" status is the oldies station, but this is the exception. By and large the "winner" in any cluster is the News / Talk station or the Country and / or Adult Contemporary station. These formats are programmed to appeal to a "soccer mom", who allegedly has zero time for anything, let alone music, so she likes familiar sounding things and flees from the unfamiliar. Music, to this so called "soccer mom" is like audio wallpaper. It only gets noticed when it is wrong. I think it could be argued that this "soccer mom" is the result of lazy radio programming rather than the cause. It also could be argued that this "soccer mom" does not even exist.
Given the level of attention to musical quality and variety given to the winning station, you can imagine the gross neglect of the music on the losing station. This logical candidate for the loser seems to be the oldies station based on the fact that the demo who finds 60s music familiar is aging out of the 25-54 cell and therefore is unmarketable to sponsors. I would argue that the people over 54 are among the few who have ever had jobs that paid above minimum wage. Everybody over 54 carrying a 20 something on your insurance (and otherwise your financial back, raise your hand ... thought so).
Until radio is ready to invest in ALL of its properties and realize the full financial potential of each, we will continue to see and hear what we see and hear now.
Jim Shea

Hi Kent,
I've been enjoying the yays and nays. I actually agree with both you and Ron Smith, so how's that for taking a stand, huh?
Actually I honestly think radio is dead for the time being. What I think could happen, at some point, is that folks will take over the low power AM stations and do real oldies. I don't have any real reasoning for this other than the people that have those frequencies seem to be doing different things with them rather than trying to compete with "the big guys." I think they'll stumble on it by accident. 

(Hey I can dream can't I?)
I am always amazed that people are really content to hear the same songs over and over again. I've been a singer / player professionally since I was 15 years old. I'm currently in a Tribute band in Minnesota. We don't do artists, but rather themes. When we pick songs for themes we always have long discussions on what to do in a show. I am always of the opinion that we should pick at least a few songs that haven't been beaten to death either by radio or cover bands.
For our fifth anniversary, we put up a list of all the songs we'd played in the last five years and asked our season ticket holders to pick 25 of their favorites. To make it a less daunting task, we would put up only a couple shows at a time since we do about 100 songs in our four themes for the year.
Very close to the top was Free Bird. I realized that many of the voters don't go to the clubs, etc., anymore, because our age group is middle aged and older. I also have figured out that many of those same people have moved on from "music" radio because they've moved over to public radio since radio chased them away by beating all their favorite songs to death, hence they like Free Bird again.
I guess what I'm trying to say in a long rambling way is that for them radio is dead, and the ones that listen to music probably have an IPod or satellite radio in their cars.
As much as I'd love radio back for the same reasons you do, I think it's dead, too, and I just don't listen to music radio anymore. Once they took out the personality away they took the life out of it.
The talent and experience still exists to pump some life back into radio again ... and infuse that personality that we all loved so well. You can't do it by limiting your jocks to six sentences per hour, however ... you've got to TRUST that wealth of experience that you're paying for and just go with it. Will it change things overnight? Of course not ... but if there's even some small hint of success, it's a pretty safe bet that everybody else will follow suit ... because that's all radio is these days ... a copy-cat business. I'm not sure they'd recognize an original idea if it hit them in the head. (Lord knows we've been trying to get our point across for thirteen years now!!!)
There are two things that offended me most about the change at WLS ... the fact that they brought back a stellar, killer line-up and then didn't allow them to be themselves ... and the fact that Jan Jeffries actually went to the media to promote the fact that they were making the format change by playing something else that would make them stand out from the crowd ... and then go on to name the EXACT same songs and artists that every other station in town is playing as if nobody listening would notice. (Talk about insulting our intelligence!!!) Now THAT is running radio with blinders on. (kk)

Why do radio stations play the same songs?
Watever the reason, you KNOW there's MONEY behind it ... and, yes, thanks for stating it WORLD WIDE!
Let's keep this going, Kent - the more we embarrass them, the more likely they'll change.

Click here: Why Do Radio Stations Play the Same Songs?

One thought ... If radio stations are losing listeners because of repetitive music and commercials maybe they should be a little more cognoscente of what listeners want. How many listeners are switching to
CDs and MP 3 Players to listen to their music at home and in the cars!!!
Bill Hengels
They just don't get it! Like I said ... look at EVERY response we received ... EVERYBODY has already given up on terrestrial radio and switched over to something else ... and radio knows this ... yet instead of fighting back for their fair share (or looking into what might have cost them that share in the first place), they just continue to feed us the exact same thing ad nauseam. Either they're completely clueless ... or they simply don't care. (kk)      

I've enjoyed the radio series but can't come up with any ideas as to how the people who run things could understand what we've been talking about.
We've had the same Classic Rock thing off and on here in Nashville, and we now have a new Oldies station that fortunately has a pretty long playlist. It's difficult to listen though, because the voice-trackers are all young guys with no knowledge of the music. They don't even listen to the music, since they're voice tracking from some distant location. We may as well have an electronic test-to-speech converter that announces the title / artist. As we've discussed before, a live or alternate version of some of the music gets into the computer system, and no one at the station realizes they only play the live versions of "Hotel California" and "Midnight Train to Georgia."
I don't get it. With all the DJs out there who know this music and would work for the same (or less), why do the stations use these guys with the bright voices who may as well be back-announcing Russian wedding music? And how many of us would help them correctly set up their music mix for next-to-nothing - or even for free?
David Lewis   

And then this ...

Kent -
From time to time, you mention that rare new track that appeals to your fans. These aren't brand new, but they're new enough, and I find them inspiring.  
Johnny Reid - Dance With Me
Brandi Carlile - The Story
Good Old War - Amazing Eyes
As I find myself turning off "classic hits radio", I've discovered quite a few songs from the current Top 40 playlist that I'm really enjoying ... and many of these are by some of the most popular, current mainstream artists of the day. Pop over to and check out this week's Billboard Top 20.
If you're not already familiar with them, click on songs #1 (Maroon Five), #7 (Bruno Mars), #11 (Taylor Swift), #12 (Pink), #13 (Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen), #17 (Ellie Goulding) and #20 (Neon Trees). I'll put these tunes up against anything else playing on the radio today ... this is some of the best pop music out there right now ... and I'm finding it much more preferable right now to listen to some of these once in awhile as opposed to the fifth or sixth playing of "Don't Stop Believin'" today. Maybe the Pop Revolution is back ... wouldn't THAT be something!!! (kk)

Here's a spooky little story for you all. BTW, I first heard this on WLS Chicago's Larry Lujack show in 1986 and had to track it down. Radio was fun even that recently! Have a ghoulish time!
Hope all are well.
We've run this clip before ... but it's one of MY favorites, too (and it drives Paige CRAZY every time I play it!) ... so here it is again!!!  (kk)

I really think you'd like the Chuck Blore book. In it, he describes the "Ultimate Radio Station" he created briefly in Los Angeles that got great ratings but ran out of money. There's also the story of his TV spots that were syndicated in Chicago, like the remarkable mouth, the late night janitor and luscious Deborah Shelton. Chuck, of course, created those memorable early WCFL jingles.
-- Ron Smith

Hi Kent,
I've been reading all the comments about the sorry state of music radio today on Forgotten Hits.
You mentioned that Internet radio is fine but it doesn't work in the car. I've been having the time of my life using the TuneIn app on my android phone, plugged into the car radio. One car is new enough it has an aux input, and the other is old enough to use a cassette adapter for the cassette deck. I wish the quality of oldies programming that I hear from the likes of KISN ( and WLS ( was available on terrestrial radio, but since it isn't I'll listen to my phone in the car and be very thankful for the technology! If you haven't tried this yet, you'll be amazed at how good it sounds. On a well processed and encoded stream it sounds better than analog FM. Just my two cents!
Love Forgotten Hits. Keep up the good work!

Last week we told you about this year's Variety Show put on at our daughter's High School ... now we have an audience-shot video of The Saxonettes performing "The Best Of Doo-Wop" ... remember, these are 15 - 17 year old girls performing this music two weeks ago to a rousing response. How rousing? They're already being asked to expand their repertoire for more performances ... and have been invited to perform The National Anthem for the school's opening basketball game (in four-part harmony no less!) If given the chance, today's younger audience WILL discover, embrace and fall in love with this music if given the chance ... but radio programmers (in their INFINITE wisdom) don't consider THEM part of their desired demographic either. (Morons!)  kk 

I took your advice and have been listening to The Drive's A-Z countdown -- and I'm hooked. I'll admit to finding the whole thing a little bit suspect at first, wondering how they were going to make it work -- but I'm hearing a wide variety of music here that I don't normally run across during the course of a normal listening day. And even some of the more familiar songs sound good again when mixed into the context of this formula. Thank you for the "heads up" on this special programming -- The Drive just earned themselves a brand new listener.
Yeah, I've pretty much been listening non-stop myself since they kicked this off on Friday Morning. Crazy as it sounds, it really DOES work ... and let's face it ... how often are you ever going to hear The Monkees doing "Daydream Believer" back-to-back with "Dazed And Confused" by Led Zeppelin?!?!? (lol)
(Scroll back for the "Listen Live" link)  kk

Superb choice - My Diengly Sad!
Here's my Top 10 list of great singles that were too late in the career of these groups to be big hits.
(Top 40 was being overrun by AOR):
I Found a Girl, Jan & Dean
Him or Me?, Paul Revere and the Raiders
Hazy Shade, Simon & Garfunkel
Try Too Hard, Dave Clark Five
Opus 17, Four Seasons
California Nights, Lesley Gore
Jennifer Eccels, Hollies
Six O'Clock, Lovin' Spoonful
Paint Me a Picture, Gary Lewis
Darlin', Beach BoysPhil
A few Forgotten Hits on that list for sure ... and some of these still sound great. I'll take "Him Or Me, What's It Gonna Be", "Opus 17", "California Nights", "Jennifer Eccles" and "Darlin'" over ANYTHING any local radio station might be playing right now ... and I can boldly make a choice like that without even knowing what song that may be ... because I can say with 75% certainty that whatever they're playing right now is most likely something that I've already turned off three or four times today anyway. (kk)

Hey Kent
Keep the rant going I'm on your side!!!! Wouldn't it be nice to hear a gem like this on the radio!!
And here are two more I'd like to hear on the radio again!!
Mickey sent us "I Must Be The Devil" by The Box Tops and then "Who Do You Love" by The Woolies along with "The Rains Came" by The Sir Douglas Quintet. Honestly, I think you're pipe-dreaming now ... short of an Internet station, you're not going to find these three coming out of your radio speakers anytime soon. We can't even get them to play legitimate Top 20 Hits anymore ... where two OUTSTANDING hits by The Sir Douglas Quintet certainly qualify ... "She's About A Mover" hit #13 in 1965 ... and is a GUARANTEED "crank up the volume" song (if somebody would only play it!!!) This one will get your listeners going EVERY SINGLE TIME. And their 1969 "comeback" hit, "Mendocino" (#14) is another sure-shot audience grabber. Play these two and I guarantee you that you'll hear from your listeners complimenting you on your creative song choices. (By the way, "The Rains Came" was ALSO a Top 40 Hit, reaching #31 in 1966 ... and "Who Do You Love" by The Woolies, which barely scratched the surface of The Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #95 in 1967, seems to be more of a "fan favorite" than anything else.)  As for The Box Tops, "I Must Be The Devil" was a B-Side ... so they SURE ain't gonna play THIS one!!! (I'd be thrilled if they'd play the flipside of that record ... The Box Tops recorded my all-time favorite version of "I Shall Be Released" in 1968 but it petered out at #67 on Billboard's pop chart. Bona fide Top 40 Hits like "Neon Rainbow" (#16, 1967), "Choo Choo Train" (#17, 1968), "I Met Her In Church" (#29, 1968) and "Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March" (#22, 1969) are regularly ignored by oldies radio ... and even Top 20 Hits like "Cry Like A Baby" (#2, 1968) and "Soul Deep" (#11, 1969) rarely get played either. Despite eight legitimate Top 40 Hits, The Box Tops seem to have been reduced to One Hit Wonder status by the all-knowing, all-powerful radio gods, who only recognize "The Letter" as airplay-worthy. (kk)

Is WLS moving up since it changed formats or declining?
It's too early to tell. While the latest ratings book shows a slight increase in their overall ratings, these measurements were taken BEFORE the full-blown switch over to the new "Classic Hits" format. Meanwhile, I'm seeing more and more evidence that K-Hits and The Drive are trying to capitalize on all the negative feedback WLS has beengetting for their change-over. K-Hits has drastically expanded their playlist ... and both stations now have campaigns built around the more music / more variety concept that we keep preaching about. The station that SHOULD have been the clear-cut winner here, simply by remaining true to its rich, long-standing heritage seems to quickly being left behind. (Meanwhile, a real, true, honest-to-God oldies station here now would be a HUGE, welcome addition to the mix ... a station focused on the music from 1955 - 1975 could easily eclipse ALL of these stations, simply by playing all of the great, great music these stations are still ignoring. Anybody out there got the guts? And the money???) kk

Dear Forgotten Hits:
My name is Leonora "Leah" Jordan, and radio today needs a big facelift. It was once so good and now you seem to have to subscribe to Satellite Radio to get somewhere. People shouldn't have to be forced into that. There are those who can't afford it and those who just don't find it worth it to subscribe to it and they should be allowed a say in such things.
There should be a station for today's pure rock / heavy metal, one for 50s and 60s music, one for 70s and 80s music, one for 90s and 2000s music, one for jazz of all sorts, one for soft rock, and maybe a pure disco station. There should also be one for alternative and indie rock. It also occurred to me that there should be one for comedy material and also one for discussions of current issues of all sorts. The latter would have a phone-in thing in which people could call and air their opinions about current issues.
It seems that there isn't too much of a Top 40 thing going on anymore so they should think of possibly starting such a station, too.  Give listeners the choice to find the kind of music and programming they want to listen to.
Also contributing to regular radio' s current state is the introduction of Internet radio. This has to be dealt with, as there are those who'd prefer to just go back to using regular radio, and there are those who can't afford the high-speed Internet access needed to get Internet radio stations and access to them. Or, it just isn't worth it to them. They should be allowed a personal choice in this matter.
Thank you for your time.
Leonora Jordan
Unfortunately, what you're suggesting is pretty much exactly what satellite radio is ... you've got a different station for EVERYTHING. Programming like that on the regular dial probably wouldn't garner enough ratings (or revenue) to keep any one single radio station going on its own. (With satellite, you're paying a subscription service fee in order to have the luxury of access to literally hundreds of stations. They don't really care WHICH ones you listen to ... they collect their money at the end of the month no matter what. And, since they don't sell advertising, your personal choices don't have any real reflection or relevance to what they're programming. Sure, they know which stations are being listened to most often ... but as long as people keep sending their checks in every month, it matters VERY little to the powers that be how the audience spends their listening time.)
You'd think that somebody might get a little creative and realize that a radio station specializing in one format just might earn themselves a very specific (and very loyal) listener base. It works for talk radio ... sports radio ... country music radio ... you know what you're selling and you know who your target audience base is ... and you just set out to service that base as best you can. Yet when it comes to the so-called "pop" stations they seem to be perfectly content to SHARE this group of listeners and, as such, program exactly the same music on all of them (to the point that most of the time you can't even distinguish which station you're tuned in to anymore!)
It used to be if you were flipping through the dial and landed on a particular song or artist, you had a pretty good idea which station you were on ... not so much the case anymore ... they've all become generic carbon copies of one another. What blows me away is that they're perfectly content to have it that way ... in fact, it's exactly what they strive for!!!
Any sense of variety seems to be sorely lacking on the radio dial these days ... yet none of these stations seem to be the least bit concerned about carving out their own niche by coming up with something that would make them stand out in the crowd amongst all the others playing the same old / same old.
And THAT is the sad state of radio that we keep describing here in Forgotten Hits. (kk)

Many thanks to Gary Shannon, who has renamed his new site "Forgotten Classic Hits" ... please know that we truly do appreciate it.
And, as I stated before, I'm all about keeping this great music alive ... so we'll do our best to help promote your station and site. (Hopefully, once in a while, you'll do the same for us!!! Especially now that we're featuring at least ONE Forgotten Hit in every posting!!!)
Deejays on the list will find some great programming suggestions here (if you've got the flexibility to modify your playlist at all ... sadly, MOST jocks have absolutely NO say or input into what they play anymore, no matter how many fresh ideas they may come up with) ... but we're still hoping that a few of you will climb on board and feature some of our "Today's Forgotten Hit" suggestions on your programs.  (Your listeners will thank you for it!)
Meanwhile, Gary's come up with a good one from the early '80's this week ... you can check it out here:

Kent ...
Thank God there was no damage to my house.
Monday = Power off, 6:30 PM.
Thursday = Power on, 6:45 PM.
No TV, No Computer, No Heat, No Hot Water.
I did have WCBS-FM , on my battery powered radio. That's all I needed to make it through the storm.
Frank B.
While we haven't mentioned the storm until now, we have been closely watching the complete devastation on the east coast brought on by Hurricane Sandy ... I can't even imagine dealing with this (and I've been through a couple of floods myself ... but when all of this was finally over, it honestly looked more like a war zone!) Thank God for the Radio, eh? (Segue into The Beach Boys' single ... "That's Why God Made The Radio") A few years ago FH Reader (and Colorado deejay) Wild Bill Cody got stranded at the studio when something like nine feet of snow crippled the city. He stayed on the air the whole time ... the other deejays couldn't even get to the station! People need comfort at a time like this ... people need a friend ... something to hold on to. THAT'S what radio can do ... THAT'S the power that it has. (Of course with MY luck they'd play "Jack And Diane" for the fourteenth time and I'd throw myself right into the eye of the storm!!!) kk
This will give you an idea of how bad things are on the East Coast.
We have a LOT of readers out your way ... we haven't heard from folks like Paul Russo from Cool Scoops or Dave The Rave ... hope you all are OK. And poor R.I.P. Renfield ... a few weeks ago, he had a stroke ... and has been slowly going through rehab recovery ... and now this. (Man, and I thought I was having a bad month!!!) Rich and Mamie (our tour guides when we came out to Philly a few years ago) ... and so many others. We feel for you and pray that you are all-right. Hopefully there's some comfort in the music ... although "Rock You Like A Hurricane" should probably stay off the air for a while. (kk)

How about a little "softer side" of "Sandy" to wrap things up today?  Here's ANOTHER great Forgotten Hit, courtesy of Ronny and the Daytonas!  (kk)