Monday, March 31, 2014

Regulated Radio

Well, I can't say that I didn't see this one coming ... 
Cumulus Media Networks has revealed they will stop distributing Scott Shannon’s True Oldies Channel at the end of June. 
Shannon’s True Oldies Channel currently airs on over 100 stations nationwide including Cumulus’ “Oldies 98.9” Atlanta. The network’s future had been up in the air since Shannon departed Cumulus’ 95.5 WPLJ New York for WCBS-FM. Shannon intends to seek a new distributor to keep the network running.
Interestingly, Cumulus registered for its 104.1 KRBE-HD2 on March 14. Likely the local station management had no idea of the plans coming from the network side of the company.
Here's hoping Scott finds a new home for his True Oldies Channel quickly ... with millions of faithful listeners all over the globe, it's a given that we'll follow him anywhere!!!

Meanwhile, more good news for both Scott Shannon AND oldies music fans ...  

Times Square Gossip is reporting that Shannon's ratings are through the roof since he joined WCBS-FM ... (you'll even find a quick mention of FH here if you read deep enough!) ...
The numbers are in for the first weeks of Scott Shannon’s CBS-FM drive-time morning show … and, they are huge. Congrats Scott …   

And Cumulus is starting their OWN syndicated oldies network!!!  (Hmm ... maybe ... just MAYBE ... they really WERE listening to us after all!!!)
Cumulus revealed a brand new “Good Time Oldies” network to debut on April 28.
The new Westwood One Good Time Oldies promo sheet states the format will target Men 45 - 64, with a music mix featuring 60% 1960s, 25% 1970s, and 15% 1950s and 1980s described as “the golden era of pop, rock, and soul: hit music of the ’60s and ’70s with a healthy portion of “oh-wow” songs from other decades. The music is up tempo and the presentation is full of energy, including features about rock and roll history and the timeless artists of the era.” To contrast, Westwood One’s Classic Hits network is 60% 1970s, 25% 1980s, and 15% 1960s.
Core artists will include The Beatles, Elton John, Chicago, Eagles, The Rolling Stones, The Doobie Brothers, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Fleetwood Mac and Three Dog Night
A "sample hour" might sound something like this:
Three Dog Night - Celebrate; Elvis Presley - Jailhouse Rock; Los Bravos - Black Is Black; Jackson 5 - Dancing Machine; Steam - Na Na Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye; Boz Scaggs - Lido Shuffle; Four Seasons - Let's Hang On; Rare Earth - I Just Want To Celebrate; Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs - Sugar Shack; Barry White - Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe; The Rascals - Good Lovin'; Kenny Loggins - Footloose; A Taste Of Honey - Boogie Oogie Oogie; The Beatles - Drive My Car; Chicago - Feelin' Stronger Every Day; Arthur Conley - Sweet Soul Music; The Eagles- One Of The Nights; The Champs - Tequila; The Supremes - You Keep Me Hangin' On and First Class - Beach Baby 
What?!?!  No Journey?  No John Mellencamp?  No Steve Miller?  No Boston?  OK, count me in ... for a little while anyway ... until I see how much you overplay the tracks that you ARE featuring!  Still it's worth a shot ... ANYTHING to get away from the same old, same old, day in and day out (although we'll clearly still get some of that ... but maybe in smaller doses!)
They're currently looking for outlets across the country to air this new format ... we'll keep you posted once we obtain a list of participating stations.  (kk)   

Meanwhile, according to Chicagoland Radio And Media, we may start to hear a little more variety here locally, too!  

Starting Monday (that's TODAY!), WLS-FM's Greg Brown will play exactly what listeners want to hear. Each weekday from Noon, Brown will host "Open Turntable Reservations," one hour of nothing but listener requests. Fans who wish to request a song may do so by calling 312-922-9470 during that hour or online at this link HERE.
This could prove to be very interesting ... I'm just wondering how far it can go ... especially since WLS-FM seems to only have about 40 albums in their music library!!!  But hey, it's a step in the right direction ... and who knows ... maybe it'll even lead to the station listening to their listeners for a change. 

In other local radio news, congratulations to Bob Stroud of The Drive ... according to the latest ratings, he is now the #3 Mid-Day Host on Chicagoland Radio (and has always been a favorite of ours).  

Just a quick note to remind you how much I LOVE Forgotten Hits! 
When I go down to Florida, the St. Pete / Clearwater area, there's a station I always turn to called The Dove, 105.5. It's a very light rock station, and when we first started going to Florida, I enjoyed it so much. They played songs like "Too Much Too Little Too Late" "All Out of Love", "On Broadway " by George Benson and other easy listening songs you never hear much. Apparently I listened a little too long this time, and started to notice, it's the same damn songs all day and all evening! I swear they don't have much more than a 50 song playlist! So many wonderful songs, and these are the same ones they play every time I'm there!  
I also wanted to mention that I am very sorry to hear that Joe Lala has passed away. Over the last five years, having a home in the Tampa area, I have seen him play many times. He had been a "guest star" sitting in with many of the area bands I have seen there in concert, and at various music festivals. They would always give a list of his accomplishments before bringing him out to the stage, and I'd think"Nobody could have possibly played with all those people and I've never even heard of him!" I'm sure he will be missed in the Tampa area.  R.I.P. Percussionist Joe Lala 

>>>The thing that confuses me is the number of Oldies that you can't find on commercial radio that are being used for commercials.  "When" (1958) and "Happy Go Lucky Me" (1960) are featured on commercials right now.  That seems to be a disconnect of some sort.   (Paul Evans)
>>>It is ... and somebody clearly isn't paying attention.  In the past, it was many of these type of "song revivals" ... movies, tv, advertising campaigns ... that resurrected some of the great oldies as they were being discovered by a whole new generation.  Not to mention a GREAT opportunity to "milk" the genre as their newly piqued curiosity inspires them to seek out other music from this same, great era.  Radio USED to jump onboard and add these songs back to their playlists (in an effort to feel "relevant" again) ... but once again, they've truly dropped the ball here ... and don't even realize it.  Your future audience is out there waiting to discover something new ... and you continue to ignore that opportunity by playing another Journey song instead.  (kk)   

Kent -
Your ironies are duly noted and appreciated - I thoroughly agree that "somebody", or rather, "more than one somebody" isn't paying attention.  I will keep on listening to Dave the Rave, because the powers that be are clueless as to what constitutes good pop music. 
I'm glad to hear that "When" and "Happy Go Lucky Me" are in ads, even if they're just background period pieces.  What commercials are they being played in?
I put your inquiry to Paul Evans, composer of these two great tunes and asked if he could not only supply the info, but also a YouTube clip of each of the two ads.  And here they are! (kk)  
Hey Kent,
Here are a couple of links:
"WHEN"    Wren Furniture ( a UK group)    
"HAPPY GO LUCKY ME"   Clash of the Clans (A game app)
(As recorded by the vaudevillian, George Formby, who beat my record out in the UK)
"HAPPY GO LUCKY ME" Was used by the World Wildlife Fund in Canada in 2013.  I can't find it on-line now.  I guess it's had its run.  
(They used my version of the song)
Hi Kent,
Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that sometimes you bump into great music in the most unlikely places and today it was in a  fish 'n' chips place! It was a format you would have loved!  
Oh, yeah, there were the formula-focus group Oldies but this time interspersed with "Summertime" by Billy Stewart, "Shimmy-Shimmy Ko-Ko-Pop" with Little Anthony & The Imperials, "A Thousand Stars" with Kathy Young & The Innocents, "Slippin' n' Slidin'" with Little Richard, even "Back In Love Again" with the Buckinghams -- and a few others that I wish I could recall at this time ... but it certainly was refreshing to hear some "surprise" music mixed in the ones that have been over-played and no longer have the surprise element.  And being it was fish 'n' chips, coleslaw, and hush-puppies, "Grease was the word!"

There really is something special that comes today when hearing something OFF the traditional play list.  The other day at Walgreens it was like they had one of those Time/Life Soft Rock CD's playing or something ... LOTS of great music you never hear anymore like "Lost Without Your Love" by Bread and "That's Love" by Jim Capaldi.  (Man, when's the last time you heard THAT one?!?!?)  SOMEBODY out there is programming Muzak geared toward the more discriminating listener.  Now all we need is for this new concept (that we've been preaching for nearly fifteen years now!) to catch on!!!  (kk) 
A note from the west coast ...
Check out good guys radio KISN out of Portland, Oregon.
The old jocks are putting on a 24 hour blast from the past with playlists from 1956 to 1974.
You will really find some past hits and rarities, more like Top 40 Radio used to be.
A second heads up is for the new website run by Mark Thompson out of North Carolina called Cool Stories in Music.  They feature a new 45 minute story every week trying to emulate the back stories that only the intense fans would know ... sort of like Casey Kasem but it's more like old Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story".
Keith Brodkorb 

This is FYI. Yesterday the radio ratings came out for the stations here in the OKC area.  The number one rated radio station (Oklahoma's Greatest Hits) as they say they are, just happens really to be the one and only station in town playing those songs from the 70's and 80's. There are really no less than seven sports talk stations here in town as well as no less than seven stations that program country.
This station is just like yours in Chicago in that you hear the same songs over and over again. Steve Miller, Journey, Foreigner, etc, you know what I'm talking about.  Apparently in Chicago you have more than one station playing the same songs over and over again. Basically here in OKC, we just have the one.So don't try persuading our station to add new songs or try something different.  They are number one with what they are doing so why should they change?
For the past two weekends, they have dropped live announcers and are playing music non-stop with the traditional commercials, jingles, promos,etc thrown in.
Finally, it appears to me that the songs I heard on Saturday, I heard also on Sunday.  Which come to think about it, are the same songs you hear Monday - Friday.
Again, I knew you knew this since this problem is nationwide.
Larry Neal
With seven sports channels and seven country channels, it's no wonder a format like this comes out on top.  At some point, all of these other options cancel each other out. 
When you're basically sharing the same audience ... and playing the same music ... there's really nothing to distinguish one channel from the other.  Sooner or later, it all just becomes white noise background music that you aren't even really paying attention to.  None of those stations will ever top the market ... and yet they all seem content to fall somewhere between #10 - #20 on the list.  Sadly, there isn't any pride or determination to even try and BE #1 ... it doesn't matter to them ... they just want their own share of this audience ... and will settle for whatever they can get, rather than trying to program something just a LITTLE bit different that might help to make their station stand out ahead of the others.
Here in Chicago, we have six or seven stations now that all seem to be drawing from the same song pool ... and another three or four that have that "overlap" factor.  For example, you're likely to hear "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey on about ten stations in town, EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!  "Jack and Diane", "Hurt So Good", "More Than A Feeling" also fall into that category.  Key artists like Steve Miller, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel and others are all part of the mix ... which really isn't much of a "mix" at all anymore.
With today's radio standards, why would a radio station ever need to employ a program director again?  If you're only going to play the same 200 songs anyway, just hit the "shuffle" button and let 'em rip.  Sequence doesn't even matter ... at some point, they all sound the same.
That's also why there is more and more automated "jock-free" programming going on.  Again, it doesn't take a genius to give out the call letters, temp and announce 98 minute to 104 minute non-stop, commercial free music blitzes!  (And, as we've discussed before, even the jocks are sick and tired of playing the EXACT same songs over and over and over again ... hard to sound fresh and excited when nothing about your station sounds the least bit fresh or exciting!)    

REGULATED RADIO:  Here's an interesting question.  Remember the days of payola ... and all the under-the-table scams and deals going on?  Wouldn't it be REALLY interesting to find out, years from now, that the reason for this radio take-over of playing the same 200-300 songs ... and 25-40 artists ... is because the radio conglomerates themselves have a stake in these songs and artists?  Meaning they all get a piece of the pie ... and are lining their own pockets through royalties and kickbacks filtered through the record labels and publishers.  Would you really be surprised to find out that, thanks to all this "mandatory" airplay that they've manufactured under the guise of "consulting", they are in fact insuring that EVERY radio station across America is playing the EXACT same songs, again and again ... while corporate radio is getting hand-over-fist richer in the process?  Hey, think about it ... it's really not an unthinkable concept ... and it's not like we haven't seen this sort of thing before ... in this very medium.  Shawn Swords ... are you listening?  I think this warrants some SERIOUS investigation ... before they drive us all COMPLETELY mad with this repetitive torture!!!  (Boy, I wonder how all the jocks on the list forced to play the same songs over and over and over again, day in and day out non-stop would feel about this should it come to pass that I've uncovered radio's dirty little secret!!!)  Seriously ... it all kinda makes sense now, doesn't it?!?!?  I say there needs to be an open investigation into this new form of "regulated" radio ... and soon.  Unfair business practice?  You betcha!  Penalties for torturing the listeners?  Duly deserved.  SOMEBODY needs to look into this and put an end to it ... and make radio "for the people" again.  (kk)