Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Food For Thought: We'll Open Up The Floor For Discussion

Hi Kent -
I got an email  from a listener who told me that he does not like it when I mention how many years ago a song came out.  He says that it makes him feel old and he then turns off the radio. 
I have always thought that saying the year a song came out brings back even more memories of high school, college, girl friends, parties, weddings, etc.   Another dj told me some years ago that he was not allowed to mention a song's year of release at his station because a 'consultant'  had advised his station to never do that.  The expert mentioned the fact that it made people feel old and younger listeners would be turned off because of how long ago it actually was.  I don't agree with this, however, I thought perhaps you could ask your readers sometime and see how they feel.
Phil - WRCO
I've run into this more and more lately ... and the general consensus seems to be that listeners don't want to be reminded about how old they are ... and putting a time stamp on this music may turn younger listeners off because of how "ancient" and "dated" it is.  Even Rewound Radio uses the slogan "It's not how OLD it is ... it's how GOOD it is" as part of their regular campaign.
Then again, stations like The True Oldies Channel and Real Oldies have worn the banner proudly on their chests, exclaiming EXACTLY what they are.  (And let's face it ... we ARE old!!!  lol)  By the same token, if you're going to shell out big bucks for satellite radio so you can listen to something like "The '60's on 6", you pretty much know what you're looking for ... and what you're going to get ... because they've done their own unique "branding" of this music! 
But honestly I think "oldies music" has become more of a genre than an implication of a particular age ... sure, you're only going to hear music of a certain era ... but it's a "feel good" period in music when competition and creativity were at an all time high ... and all of this is reflected in the wide variety of sounds that captivated all of us then and helped to broaden our horizons as to just how much great music was really out there in this creative and rapidly evolving time. 
Kids today discover how great this music is and can't help but be taken in by it ... but they're no dummies ... I've had 11 and 12 year olds tell me that they LOVE this music ... but then ask "why do they have to play the SAME songs all the time???"  It's a valid point ... with literally over 10,000 songs to choose from, why are we all being force fed the same 200-300?  Certainly there's a much wider scope to "oldies music" than these select few examples.  Hopefully, some of these kids will take the initiative to dig a little deeper and discover more of this music on their own ... because odds are traditional radio has NO intention of leading them down that path ... not the way it's currently set up anyway ... where you can travel to ANY town in America and hear the exact same music you left behind at home.
A couple of years ago we ran a very successful series called "What Is An Oldie?" ... but even our team of experts couldn't seem to narrow it down to anything specific.  (Were oldies the music before The British Invasion hit our shores?  Should anything before disco be considered an oldie?  Or is it more of a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame philosophy that anything more than 25 years old should be considered an "oldie" ... which now takes us to 1990???)  We certainly hear more 1980's music than ever on these so-called "classic hits" stations ... and rarely do we hear anything released before 1964 (and usually then only if it's something by The Beatles or The Rolling Stones!)  For the most part "the greatest hits of all-time" seem to have all happened between 1969 and 1989 ... at least in the radio consultants' and programmers' minds.  A few years ago Scott Shannon told me that he would never play Bon Jovi on The True Oldies Channel ... but I'll bet that day is sooner than he thinks ... if he hasn't started doing it already!
This is why I like the Rewound Radio philosophy and Mason Ramsey's "Rock And Roll Heaven" idea of "Music For The Ages". And I say, "Why not???"  We ALL grew up listening to this wide kaleidoscope of music over the years ... we were exposed to EVERY kind of music played side-by-side, whether that meant Glen Campbell back-to-back with Jimi Hendrix or Napoleon XIV running into The Rolling Stones.  Good music is good music ... and NOBODY can take that away.  (Please don't read this to define "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!" as "good music"!!!  But there's no doubt the impression it made in its short six weeks on the air, climbing all the way to #2 at a time in radio where literally "anything goes" was a way of life!)
I'm happy to put your inquiry out there and see what comes back ... a pretty mixed bag of responses I would imagine ... with no real right or wrong answer.  Unfortunately, it's today's Program Directors who make that call ... or, perhaps more accurately, these high-paid expert consultants who have determined that the human mind really doesn't have the capacity to absorb more than the same 200 songs all day long.  God knows that it's THIS level of expertise that places THEM in charge and not us ... we just "lived" it ... while many of them weren't even born yet!  They seem to see dollars and cents ... an operate with no real appreciation or connection to the music they're playing.  And let me tell you, it's getting tougher and tougher to sway ANYBODY to step outside the box once in a while these days!!!  (kk)

What say you?  Drop us a line if you've got an opinion on this topic and we'll run some of your responses next week in Forgotten Hits.