Monday, January 20, 2014

Our Latest Radio Rave-Out

re:  The Love of Oldies Music ... and Bringing It Back to Chicagoland Radio:
Loved listening to the Beach Boys' "That Why God Made the Radio" while reading the oldies discussion. Proof that the sounds of the 60's are still relevant.
If the oldies are only listened to by boomer oldies like me, then why are three and four generations standing, dancing, clapping, singing at every Beach Boys concert? McCartney. The Stones. Rascals.
Maybe we should dump "oldies" and label our music: Great Songs, Great Singles, Great Sounds. For young people from 8 to 80.
Our FH Buddy Mason Ramsey (he of "") programs "Music For The Ages" ... with NO restrictions whatsoever regarding when this music came out ... good music is good music ... and it's not uncommon for him to dig out something from the '40's and play it right alongside something from the charts today.  The idea (much along the same concept we've been touting for a while now) is that we all grew up listening to this same music ... we were all exposed to these different genres at some point and time in our lives ... so it ALL means something to us.  Rewound Radio uses the slogan "It's not how old it is ... it's how GOOD it is" ... unfortunately, we've seen "oldies" become the LAST word you want to utter on the radio ... which is why I give such high praise to Scott Shannon for incorporating the into his station's namesake.  He very well may be the last of a dying breed! 
Incredibly, WLS-FM has now gone outside for programming help.  For the first time ever, instead of an in-house programming director, WLS pays a fee to a consulting firm specializing in the Classic Hits format.  As such, their playlist has expanded a little bit.  All this despite the fact that they have amongst their resources through Cumulus Broadcasting Scott Shannon, a guy who has been recognized by Billboard Magazine as the Programmer of the Year on multiple occasions.  What a REAL shame it is that these guys can't even see what's right in front of their faces!  (kk)

Though not related to bringing the oldies back to WLS-FM, it’s disappointing to read today that American Idol producer Per Blankens has stated that this season’s show will feature less golden oldies and more current music that the contestants, and presumably the younger audience, can relate to.    I say too bad for that.  
Mike Ogilvie
Mississauga, ON.
Honestly, on this one I have to agree ... these kids (many of whom are 16 and 17 years old now auditioning for shows like American Idol and The Voice) cannot relate to music that came out some 40 years before they were born.  And let's face it ... they don't stand much of a chance of becoming new, contemporary artists by singing it because we can't even find this music on many of the radio stations that are supposed to be playing it!!!  In order to compete today, you've got to sound hip and current.  American Idol is worried ... the big competition show now is The Voice ... they've got this down to a science and the chemistry shown on that program between the judges is something that Idol has NEVER been able to capture.  I stopped watching YEARS ago (although I hear Harry Connick, Jr. is quite good in his new role.)  For that matter I really enjoyed the first season of American Idol with then brand-new judge Steven Tyler ... until he just clammed up midway through the year ... but let's face it, it's a singing competition ... it's SUPPOSED to be about the singers, not the judges and/or coaches.  In that respect, I think The Voice does a better job of bringing you both.  It's called "great chemistry".
Did you hear what Jimmy Fallon said after the Idol premier last week?
American Idol kicked off its thirteenth season tonight.  Wow ... you know, it's really amazing ... because they start out with THOUSANDS ... and then it's down to 20 ... then to 10 ... and then to 5 ... and then, finally when it's ALL over, you've got just ONE person left still watching.
Totally cracked me up!  (kk)   

Hope the momentum you started to bring "oldies" back to Chicago works.  
I love your work!  
Regards -  

I wish we had similar stations in Dallas to what you propose (I know you used to travel here quite a bit based on our older emails) ... BUT ... 
The person who posted about the aging of the listeners is dead on. We are no longer in the money demo and your idea, while good, is not going to succeed. It's just about money, not the music. Life is like that.
FH Reader Danny Guilfoyle sent us this blurb about an online Internet versions of WCFL (or, at the very least, a SALUTE to Super 'CFL)

“Fan of classic Chicago radio creates a cyber ’CFL.”   
J.R. Russ “has spent a thousand hobby hours to create an Internet version of WCFL (1000), the free-wheeling Chicago station that during the 1960s and 1970s was the home of Larry Lujack, Jerry G. Bishop and Barney Pip.” That’s the Chicago Sun-Times’ Dave Hoekstra, profiling “a labor of love” by Russ. J.R. says that “rather than a tribute station, stuck in the ‘60s and ’70s, I call it a salute station, which captures the essence of the original,” but plays some newer music. His traffic grew after Lujack’s death on December. 18. Read the Sun-Times story about the original WCFL where the jocks were “more unleashed,” and the current J.R. Russ version of it here. Note that J.R.’s also got the “Chickenman” comedy series, created by then-WCFL production genius Dick Orkin.
Kent -
Just read your Monday cumulus posting and I completely agree with you. For the past year I no longer listen to any AM or FM station in Chicago. Instead, I have 7000 songs on my ipod which play songs at random. When in the car I only listen to Sirius XM 50's and/or 60's channels. 
But I miss hearing good radio voices talking directly to me such as Scott Shannon, but it doesn't have to be original voices as frankly Fred Winston (who was one of the funniest during his heyday) and John Landecker  now sound tired (not sure if it was due to station edicts or just being tired).  In any event, your request to contact Cumulus is a great one. However you failed to give info as to how best to contact them. Please post instructions in order for us to best reach those who can make a decision to do what you suggest.  
Steve Davidson
Here they are again for the benefit of anyone who may not have written in yet:
3280 Peachtree Road, NW Suite 2300
Atlanta, Georgia 30305
TEL. (404) 949-0700
FAX. (404) 949-0740
And please help us to spread the word through whatever social media networks you use ... let people know what we're trying to accomplish here!  Our voice gets much louder when we all speak as one!  (kk)
About Chicago and REO performing on tour together - so why don't they have a date scheduled anywhere in CHICAGO?????  And regarding radio playlists, how come I hear Gerry Rafferty's song so often, but never hear any Cat Stevens or John Denver???? (I know, John Denver?? Sorry, but I loved his music, and I'm not afraid to admit it!)
They were so popular back in the day, had numerous hits, and are kinda similar to Rafferty (and what else did HE do?), yet no one ever plays them. What about the Beach Boys? Never even hear THEM!! And why not feature some of the hits by Chicago artists, such as 'Hold On' by the Mauds instead of Sam & Dave's, or something other than just the Buckinghams (sorry Bucks), when we had practically a whole survey list of artists from this town? And since Chicago had so many hits, when will they be recognized in the HOF???? I know this has been talked about before, but come on, what the heck does it take????? How many petitions?
Also Kent, if you go to there's a really nice biography of the band Chicago. (Under Chicago returns home, I think it said).
Thanks, I feel better now!
I couldn't believe when I saw the tour schedule and didn't see a Chicago stop on the list ... so two of our area's biggest bands ever are FINALLY touring together ... and they're not even gonna play one for the home crowd so that we can go and see them?!?!  What's up with that?!?!?  (Personally, I think they're saving that announcement for later ... what better place to cap off the tour than right here at home?)
While I've never been a John Denver fan there is no denying his impact and popularity at the time.  (It's kind of like when K-Hits counted down The Top 40 Artists of the '70's and left The Carpenters off the list ... there weren't too many artists bigger than they were ... they just don't "test well enough" to fit the K-Hits format.)
And sadly, this is the way radio continues to rewrite history ... like the comment elsewhere in today's page, they want you to believe these artists only had one or two hits, despite the fact that sometimes dozens of other legitimate hits are completely ignored.  ("We've only got room on our station for ONE Jimmy Buffet song ... so we're just going to play the hell out of it ... besides, people would rather hear six more Steve Miller songs today instead anyway!")
As for Gerry Rafferty, I used to LOVE "Baker Street" ... couldn't get enough of it ... but I, too, now turn it off due to overexposure. Too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing.  For the record, he, too, had several other hits ... "Right Down The Line" (actually, I still hear that one quite a bit ... and I've yet to grow tired of it), "Home And Dry", "Days Gone Down" and "Get It Right Next Time" all made The Top 40.  Throw in his hits with Stealers Wheel ("Stuck In The Middle With You" is another WAY over-played oldie ... but "Star" is one of those GREAT Forgotten Hits that NEVER gets played) and that's a pretty good assault on the pop charts.
Finally, I couldn't agree more ... a radio station should recognize their city's legacy of local artists ... The Drive probably does the best job of this in Chicago (now that Jeff James is off the air over at Y103.9, they're about the ONLY ones who do!)  Want to create a station that FEELS like Chicago?  Then play those great local hits by The Ides Of March, The Cryan' Shames, The New Colony Six, The American Breed, etc., along with the bigger national hits by Chicago and The Buckinghams and Styx.  (kk)
I found this quite by accident while researching the latest Sonny Geraci Benefit Concert news ... FH Readers (and oldies music fans) may wish to check it out:

>>>You switch from one station to another, only to find that the exact same song is playing there, three words apart from what you just turned off!!!  How does a radio maintain ANY identity with THAT sort of programming?  There is no longer ANYTHING unique about any one of them to make them stand out from the rest of the pack.  (kk)  
Kent -
Some good news!  Just to let you know that in the past couple of years CBS FM the oldies channel in NYC has finally changed their oldies format.  They have had to  learn how to compete with satellite radio by playing more of a variety of oldies. They are now also limiting the advertising.  I hope that the radio stations in Chicago will get the memo and get on board.  Also, I have Comcast cable tv with "Music Choice" which started their oldies format about a year ago  and play a variety of  music ranging from Solid Gold Oldies, Classic Hits, songs of the 70's, 80's, 90's, as well as Country and Western, Hip Hop, Jazz, current stuff,  etc. It's refreshing to see that there has been a change in music oldie coverage in the local NYC area. They had to do something also to compete with satellite radio. I pay the basic cable rates to get this music service.  Getting Chicago to turn their format around is analogous to turning an ocean liner around with a wooden oar.  One day at a time.  I believe you are on the right track. There's strength in numbers.  It's important for a lot of baby boomers to speak up and be heard. I sent an email to the email addresses at the Chicago radio stations that were included in your text.  Hope it helps. Try to be patient and keep the faith.
It's like I said a couple weeks ago ... the television networks have had to "up their game" in order to compete with cable ... radio is finding itself in the same boat when it comes to competition from Satellite and Internet Radio, both of which right now blows them away when it come to programming.  The biggest difference is that the television networks still have to conform to certain restrictions when it comes to things like censorship ... as such, they can only give us so much ... radio, on the other hand, has no such restrictions enforcing them to play the same two or three hundred songs repeatedly on end ... they CHOOSE to do so because they're lazy and they're blind to the MILLIONS of listeners they've lost who have found something better elsewhere off the dial.  Think about it ... people would rather PAY to hear the music they want to hear than to endure the torture another day of what terrestrial radio has to offer.  How truly, truly sad.  (kk)
Radio was SUCH an exciting thing here in Chicago in the years gone by.  Columnist Rob Feder posted this link over the weekend, showing a news segment that Bob Sirott (himself a former WLS great) put together, spotlighting the "Chicago Radio Wars" of the early '80's ... when the choices of good, solid entertainment made it difficult (if not almost impossible) to tune in to all the good radio that was available to us then.  (Boy, have things changed!!!  You truly cannot tell one station from another these days as they all seem to be working from the same playbook ... subtitled "boring"!!!!)
You can read all about it ... and watch some long lost classic clips ... here:
Listen to these clips and you quickly realize that what made these jocks the huge successes that they were was the fact that they bucked the system and paved their own path, regardless of what the program director felt they SHOULD have been doing.  It was THIS type of adventurous attitude that has always made the difference.  Personality radio ... good music ... not the exact same crap that every other radio station and disc jockey in town is doing.  (Seriously ... do the people in charge of radio today have ANY sort of clue as to what makes GOOD radio???)  kk

Sorry as I don’t get a chance to read your board as often as many here but did catch today’s and Jim Shea hit it on the head!  (By the way, HI JIM !!!!!!!!!)
Until someone comes along that won the lottery and buys a station and hires people that KNOW the music and how to PROPERLY format the rock and roll from the 1950’s through the 1970’s, it is not going to happen.  
In regards to Jim’s story with the Programmer –  when I was doing afternoons on Star 105.5 the consultant (yep back when they used them for programming) slammed me a new one when I played COME MONDAY instead of MARGARITAVILLE by Jimmy Buffett as I was up to HERE with hearing that song for the 56,456th time on that station.  He told me (and I quote) “By playing that song, I just LOST 200 listeners”  As I kiddingly tell my kids, corporate radio wants you to believe Jimmy Buffett only had ONE hit along with the likes of Aerosmith – Yardbirds, etc etc etc.
As a matter of fact I am working on a deal on possibly joining a well-established internet station with a LPFM for doing some weekend fun – if something comes from this you will be the first to know!
Jeff James

It was another declining year of revenues for Chicagoland radio stations.  Among the year’s biggest losers were the two Cumulus Media stations, with news / talk WLS AM 890 dropping 12 percent to $13.0 million and classic hits WLS FM 94.7 dropping 25 percent to $7.9 million. The company just doubled down on its investment in Chicago with the takeover of classic rock WLUP FM 97.9 and modern rock WIQI FM 101.1.
-- Robert Feder
Whatever you're doing ISN'T working!!!!!  WE think we have a solution.  (Seriously, at THIS point, what have you got to lose?!?!?)  kk

Kent --
The complete revenue figures for Chicago radio are included in an article I read this morning.
WLS-FM ranks twenty-second in the Chicago market with a large drop from the prior year.
Big trouble and management probably doesn't want to take any risks, but now might be the right time to try it. Good luck with your campaign.
Thanks, Danny ... SOMEBODY over there needs to open their eyes and at least CONSIDER making a change. I mean seriously ... could it really get any worse than it already is?!?!?  (kk)
That revenue figure for WLS is really bad. To put it into context, I was the GSM of seven Clear Channel stations here in Rochester. The largest of the seven, WHAM-AM averaged about 7 million in revenue a year and the Rochester population is only 211,000. Chicago's is around 2.7 million.
Cumulus ... let us help you recapture your share of listenership here in Chicago.  We have an audience of oldies fans primed for the return of The True Oldies Channel!  (kk)
We've had good response to our campaign ... and many of you have picket up the baton and written in to sources who may be able to help our cause.  I've heard from a couple of people who have suggested that with as many sinking radio stations out there as there are, we could probably put together a committed group of investors and BUY a radio station and program it the way we like ... and suppose that IS an option.  But for me the key to this whole thing working is that it HAS to be WLS-FM ... NOBODY else has that kind of built-in name recognition ... NOBODY else will be taken as seriously as WLS will be because of their unparalleled legacy.  We need to make it happen THERE.
On the plus side, Cumulus seems concerned an committed to building a more solid base here in Chicago ... they've made enough moves of late to indicate that they're in this for the long haul ... so again we ask you to just CONSIDER what we're saying here ... folks have to spread the word and get the message to the powers that be at Cumulus in order to make it happen ... and then Cumulus has to do THEIR part and hire a sales force that knows how to market to this "older" audience by not insulting them.  Just like radio doesn't like to use the word "oldies", listeners don't want to be reminded of the fact that they're getting old!!!  It makes sense, doesn't it???  We DO spend our money on things other than adult diapers and assisted living!  Cars, travel (especially cruise ships), casinos, insurance, investments ... THESE are the "hot buttons" that might make an older demographic respond.  Cater to THOSE needs and you just might have a hit radio station on your hands!  (kk)
re:  Idiots!:
And for all these so-called experts and consultants who insist that oldies music is dead, may I suggest that you look no further than the two biggest movies of the year, "American Hustle" and "The Wolf Of Wall Street", BOTH of which are chock-full of music from our generation.
We saw "American Hustle" yesterday and couldn't believe the amount of '60's and '70's music featured, including KEY scenes spotlighting "Delilah" by Tom Jones, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" by The Bee Gees and "Live And Let Die" by Paul McCartney and Wings.
Other music prominently featured in the film includes "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer, "Dirty Work" by Steely Dan, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John, "Overture 10538" by Electric Light Orchestra (as well as a previously unreleased ELO track called "Long Black Road" , which I've already downloaded for my permanent collection), "A Horse With No Name" by America, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is" by Chicago, "I Saw The Light" by Todd Rundgren, "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" by Temptations, "Evil Ways" by Santana, "Jean Genie" by David Bowie as well as dynamite cover versions of "Don't Leave Me This Way" and "White Rabbitt" by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and Mayssa Karaa respectively.  In addition, we're also treated to an assortment of jazz tracks by the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Frank Sinatra and Thelonious Monk.   
Later that same evening we re-watched "Silver Linings Playbook" (a film that actually employed many of the same actors present in "American Hustle", including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro ... enough, in fact, to make one wonder if they couldn't have save a few bucks by filming both movies simultaneously!  lol)  Check out the track list on THIS award-winning film:
"My Cherie Amour" and "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" (both by Stevie Wonder), "Misty" by Johnny Mathis, "What Is And What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin, "Hey Big Brother" by Rare Earth (when's the last time you heard THAT one on the radio ... a legitimate Top 20 Hit from 1972), as well as a version of "Sway" (the old Bobby Rydell / Dean Martin hit), Frank Sinatra's "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and songs by Dave Brubeck and Les Paul and Mary Ford, along with a VERY cool duet between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.
To cap off the evening, we watched the Season Two Premier of "The Following", in which one of the killers finds his victim's i-Pod, scrolls through the tracks it contains and mutters "Oh ... '70's freak, eh?  KILLER play list!!!"  He then proceeds to serenade and entertain his already dead victim by dancing to KC and the Sunshine Band's "That's The Way I Like It" and romantically singing along with England Dan and John Ford Coley on their hit "Nights Are Forever Without You".  This music ISN'T dead ... only his latest victim is!
The other big Oscar-nominated film right now is "The Wolf Of Wall Street" (which we haven't seen yet ... but is reportedly three solid hours of sex, drugs and roll and roll ... the "F-Bomb" is dropped a record-breaking 506 times in three hours!) includes music by Billy Joel ("Movin' Out"), Elvis Presley ("Can't Help Falling In Love Love"), Sir Mix-A-Lot, The Jimmy Castor Bunch ("Hey Leroy, Your Mama's Callin' You"), Cannonball Adderley ("Mercy, Mercy, Mercy"), Romeo Void, The Foo Fighters and performances of "Goldfinger", "Mrs. Robinson" and "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" as well as tracks by Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Eartha Kitt!
I'm also reminded of recent Broadway Hits (and later film versions) spotlighting the hits of ABBA ("Mamma Mia") and The Four Seasons ("Jersey Boys") and cannot help but wonder what planet these know-it-all experts are living on ... because it SURE isn't the real world that the rest of us live in!  For God's sake, take the blinders off ... and program the music that listeners REALLY want to hear!!!  (kk)