Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Morning Radio Rave-Out

It's hard ... but we're trying to confine our radio rave-outs to no more than just a once-a-week-ly feature ... just like Billy Jack so emphatically stated, "I try ... I REALLY try" ... but it's SO hard as we continue hear radio deteriorate further and further with each weekly listen.

Anyway, here are some of your latest thoughts and comments ... with me chiming in (as usual!) from time to time!  

re:  The New WCFL:  
>>>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, do
you have the website for this station?? (Clark)  

>>>The link above is SUPPOSED to take you there ... but I personally have tried numerous times now to access the station and have yet to connect.  I either just keep spinning or being redirected to other areas, none of which allow me to listen to the site.  I'm hoping that someone else on the list had better success with this and can provide us with a new link so that others on the list can enjoy it, too.  I'll keep you posted.  Help anyone???  (kk)  

I got this link to work right away:
THEN, the link quit after 10 minutes.  Got it back.  The first time, the second song was "Separate Ways" by Journey (AAAARGH!).  After I got it back, some song by Paula Abdul.  To quote Chicago legend Sam Cooke, "That's it, I Quit -- I'm Movin' On!"  Worthless WCFL ...

Clark Besch

Hi Kent, 
I noticed that Clark mentioned having trouble connecting with wcflchicago.comAll I did was type in and then clicked on the listen link. It connected via Itunes and vuala. I love the idea of the station, but really don't need to hear Against the Wind by Bob Seger or Turn to Stone by ELO, 'cause I've already played them to death, but then I didn't listen all that long. I also tried out and thought there was a lot of possibilities there. We still need good jocks for internet radio to really make it a permanent radio replacement. 
I always try and give them a couple listens though. Still like Rewound Radio the best. 
I'm loving the Beatles 50th stuff you are doing a lot. 
Rewound Radio plays a tremendous selection of tunes. There just doesn't seem to be much sense in doing a WCFL tribute station unless you're actually going to play tribute to ... and feature ... what the station is known for.  Otherwise, I have to agree ... there is MORE than enough Journey and Bob Seger on the radio dial now ... we certainly don't need another place to hear THAT!!!  (kk)

The website you are looking for is Bill    

Kent -  
If you have the itunes program on your computer you can get this website to play. Open the site, click on the icon and then click "run" or "open". It will ask how to open it and click on the one that says to pick a program from your list of programs. then click on itunes.  
Steve Davidson  

Getting it to play seems to be less of a problem now than getting it to play something DECENT and worth listening to ... based on the letters we received above. Honestly, after the third or fourth time of it not working at all, I finally gave up.  Hard to garner any new listeners ... or endorsements THAT way!!!  (kk)    

Got this from Clark Weber in response to all our recent bitching about the sad state of radio today!  Proof again, however, how TRULY out of sync these decision makers really are!  (kk)      

Radio's Answer to Spotify? Less Variety -- Stations Create More Repetition, Fearing Listeners Will Tune Out Unfamiliar Tunes
Synth-pop band Capital Cities has plenty of songs on its debut album that it wants to promote as singles — if only radio programmers would allow it. 
The band's hit, "Safe and Sound," is the only song most fans have heard: it has been playing on the radio for more than two years. And because so many listeners now know the song, which peaked last year at No. 2 on radio's Top 40 chart, stations are afraid to take it out of rotation.
"'Safe and Sound' just wasn't going away," said Capital Cities' manager, Dan Weisman, who postponed plans last fall to promote the band's second single until later this year. "You don't want to shove it down people's throats if they're not ready to move on." 
Faced with growing competition from digital alternatives, traditional broadcasters have managed to expand their listenership with an unlikely tactic: offering less variety than ever.   
The strategy is based on a growing amount of research that shows in increasingly granular detail what radio programmers have long believed — listeners tend to stay tuned when they hear a familiar song, and tune out when they hear music they don't recognize.  
The data, coupled with the ballooning number of music sources competing for listeners' attention, are making radio stations more reluctant than ever to pull well-known hits from their rotations, extending the time artists must wait to introduce new songs.  
The top 10 songs last year were played close to twice as much on the radio than they were 10 years ago, according to Mediabase, a division of Clear Channel Communications Inc. that tracks radio spins for all broadcasters. The most-played song last year, Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," aired 749,633 times in the 180 markets monitored by Mediabase. That is 2,053 times a day on average. The top song in 2003, "When I'm Gone" by 3 Doors Down, was played 442,160 times that year.  
That is partly because about 70 new Top 40 stations have sprouted up over the past decade, said Clear Channel's president of national programming, Tom Poleman, while stations specializing in rock and smooth jazz have dwindled. But other radio formats are getting more repetitive, too, while the line is blurring between pop songs and songs that once fit more neatly in other categories, as artists and listeners to embrace a wider variety of sounds as they jump from genre to genre on digital playlists.   
The top country song last year, Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel," was played 229,633 times, while 2003's top country hit, Lonestar's "My Front Porch Looking In," got only 162,519 spins. 
The intensifying repetition is largely a response to the way radio stations now measure listenership. Six years ago the industry began tracking listeners in many radio markets with pager-like devices called Portable People Meters, which monitor all the stations that selected listeners hear throughout the day—in their homes, cars or public spaces. Radio programmers can watch how many of these people tune in and out when they play a given song. In the past, the same listeners recounted their listening habits in handwritten diaries that were far less detailed or accurate.
Programmers also take other research into account when building their prime-time playlists, like listener surveys and social-media buzz, since people-meter data — based on relatively tiny sample sizes — isn't perfect. But the numbers are impossible for advertisers to ignore, and because more listeners generally tune out when they hear a song they don't know, radio stations have carved out special time slots for new music so that they can keep familiar tunes in the regular lineup and preserve their ratings.  
Three years ago Clear Channel launched a program called "Artist Integration" that plays snippets of new songs during advertising time instead of music-designated time. Clear Channel itself is buying the ad slots in order to promote new records. In Los Angeles, hip-hop station Power 106 does its experimenting with new tracks on "New Music Tuesdays," which airs in the afternoon.
Old-fashioned terrestrial radio remains by far the most popular source of music in the U.S. and the way that most consumers say they discover new music, according to Nielsen research.
In addition to playing fewer hits more often, the radio industry has taken a range of other measures to hold on to its audience in the digital age. In August, for instance, broadcasters rolled out an app called NextRadio—preloaded onto many Sprint phones — that lets smartphone users listen to FM radio without draining their batteries or data plans.
Songwriters and publishers of the top-spun songs benefit from the extra airplay they get now, since they get paid royalties for every radio spin at a rate that increases once a song becomes a hit, thanks to the way performing-rights organizations distribute publishing royalties.
But for record labels and artists, who don't earn royalties from airplay in the U.S., the growing wait time to launch new singles makes it even harder to sell albums. Album sales fell 8% in 2013 to 289.4 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"It's easier to sell albums when you have multiple hit singles," said Mr. Weisman, Capital Cities' manager.
Veteran radio promoter Richard Palmese said he tells programmers they should spin a new song at least 150 times during peak listening hours—basically rush hours — before they draw any conclusions about whether fans like it or not, since many songs take time to grow on people.
But that can be a hard sell. When Mr. Palmese first asked Top-40 stations to play The Lumineers' acoustic-guitar-driven single "Ho Hey" in 2012, for example, many responded incredulously, making jokes along the lines of: "What are you giving me, a Peter, Paul and Mary record?"
Mr. Palmese gave up and set out to land the record on adult-alternative stations instead; six months later it peaked at No. 2 on the Top 40 chart.
Sometimes there is simply no room for new tunes, despite a programmer's wishes. Ebro Darden, vice president of programming at New York's Hot 97, said he didn't have the space to immediately add a single from Wiz Khalifa's album "O.N.I.F.C." when it came out last winter, even though he liked it, the record label had bought ad time, and Mr. Khalifa — who would come in to do promotional interviews — is one of hip-hop's biggest stars.
In the new intensely scrutinized world of radio, said Mr. Darden, "taking risks is not rewarded, so we have to be more careful than ever before."  

>>>That is partly because about 70 new Top 40 stations have sprouted up over the past decade
The above line appears in the article that Clark Weber sent.  This comment is a total injustice to the radio classification of "Top 40".  These stations get plowed into my head nightly at work and I can hear the same song three times in eight hours.  Sure, Ron Riley played new Beatles songs every hour for a day or two, but the word is "NEW".  The songs I hear constantly are often a year old!!  The top station in Lincoln is what I call a teeny bopper station (NOT top 40) that has battled for #1 off and on for three decades now.  In 1980 when they were new, they had a printed Top 20 survey.  IF they had a survey with songs less than two months old today, I'm guessing it might be a Top ZERO!  The backing tracks to most of the songs played SHOULD have lawsuits pending from Donna Summer's family for using the backing track of 1977's "I Need Love".  They all sound like that. 
Then there's the headbanger guys at work that have basically just guys screaming lyrics out.   I keep thinking I should make a CDR of the MUSICAL part of Cheech & Chong's 70's classic "Earache My Eye" and stick it in their radios.  They would wonder who is doing this GREAT new song! 
Take me back to the Troggs / New Vaudeville Band / Beatles / Association / Vogues / Hendrix / Henson Cargill / Sinatra / Royal Guardsmen back to back days any time!!  
Clark Besch
I just love the part about how radio programmers (in their infinite wisdom) maintain that the solution here is LESS variety ... because people will tune out anything that isn't immediately familiar to them.  (Of course this logic is based on the facts that radio ratings are going through the roof and listenership is bigger than ever, right???  Ridiculous!)  Once again, these idiots have yet to deduce that the reason that the exact OPPOSITE is true is because of the fact that they have driven listeners away by their non-stop, repetitive bullshit.  Nobody can STAND to listen for more than a few minutes for fear of hearing the EXACT SAME SONGS being played again! (kk)

This is an interesting and very well produced BBC documentary on the ten richest songs of all time.  It is rather lengthy to watch on you tube, but is worth your while.  
The complete 90 minute video is here:  
Actually, it's a GREAT special ... if you've got the time to check it out, I think you'll really enjoy it.  You'll not only hear the usual suspects as "most overplayed songs" ... but also hear the stories behind some REAL money-makers!  Check it out when you get a chance.  (kk)

I don't know if you ever watch Bill O'Reilly and the Factor on Fox News, but tonight they had a segment in which the song UNCHAINED MELODY by Vito and the Salutations was being played in the background. 
I have said it before but sometimes I wonder who is determining and why they are coming up with these songs being used in the background of certain commercials and television segments as I mentioned. This music refuses to die and I am glad. 
Yeah, and that's not even a GOOD one!  (lol)
Sadly, we've reached the point where it's exciting just to hear something DIFFERENT ... regardless of how good or bad it is ... we just welcome the surprise ... the break from the norm ... somebody ... ANYBODY ... thinking (and programming) outside the box.
I mentioned last week that the new "twin killers" on Fox's "The Following" took a stroll through one of their victim's iPod's and came across a '70's mix that included KC and the Sunshine Band and England Dan and John Ford Coley.  This week (at yet another murder ritual) the "theme music" was Doris Day's "Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera Sera)".  The horror series "American Horror" always uses '60's music ... and more often than not, an obscure choice at that.  (Last year's running theme was "Dominique" by The Singing Nun.)  I've said it before and I'll say it again ... I don't know that I EVER need to hear that song again in this lifetime!  (lol) ... but honestly, I LOVE the fact that they're doing this ... it's helping to keep this great music alive and I'm Pro-'60's all the way!  (kk)   

>>>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 56,456 time on that station.  He told me and I quote “By playing that song I just LOST 200 listeners”   (Jeff James)  
Well see, that's where you went wrong ... if you simply would have played "Why Don't We Get Drunk And Screw" instead, you probably would have GAINED two THOUSAND listeners ... or, at the very least, been the topic of discussion for awhile amongst the listeners they had ... imagine that ... good word of mouth telling OTHER people to tune in and listen to what the guy over on W-Such-And-Such is playing ... instead of the whole universe collectively complaining about just how bad radio really is.  (kk)

Here in Chicago we do not have a radio station that play oldies. I am not sure why, considering there are so many stations playing classic rock. The play lists are tight so I do not listen to any of them anymore. We need an oldies station that plays more then "the big hit " by an artist. There are so many groups that had 5, 10 or twenty top 40 hits and we never hear these songs! 
There are many people in the age bracket of 30 to 65 that would listen. In fact, these are the people that "want" to listen to the radio.The youngsters today have too many alternatives and do not listen like us oldsters do (or used to). Please do not alienate us ... an oldies station in Chicago could be a "gold mine" with a flexible play list of great records we do not hear that often. Please give this some thought!! 
Mike De Martino 
President of the Lovejoy Music Club 
WLS-FM has tried other formats before ... who could forget "Disco 'DAI" in the late '70's and Z-95 in the '80's.  (And we all know how successful THESE formats were for them!!!)  So after suffering miserable ratings, they went back to the call letters that made the station famous in the first place ... WLS-FM.  As recently as a year or two ago they started using the slogan "The Station You Grew Up With" ... which had all the ear-markings of a return to their former status ... especially when they hired back a bunch of the old crew from the '70's like Brant Miller, John Landecker and Fred Winston, all of whom joined the legendary Dick Biondi on board ... but they STILL couldn't leave things alone. 
I have to admit that the closest I hear the station become the voice of personality radio these days is during Robert Murphy's afternoon drive show ... it seems all of the other jocks have been told to shut up and just play the music ... but I KNOW these guys could be every bit as entertaining if only given the chance to do so.  There's a WHOLE lotta talent on this staff.  A return to the REAL WLS would be a welcome relief to the city of Chicago ... go back to that slogan "The Station You Grew Up With" and add "We Play ALL The Hits" ... but then DO IT!!!  Play ALL the hits, not the same tired 200-300 retreads that every other station in town is playing!  
Worst part is that despite all these changes and tinkering constantly going on at 94.7, the best ratings the station has enjoyed in YEARS ... decades maybe ... was when they were under the True Oldies Channel umbrella. Perhaps the best question of all is "Why WOULDN'T they want to return to their glory days???"
Give a listen to Allan Sniffen's advise below ... why CAN'T you have a play list of 3000 songs?  What possible harm could it cause?  You're STILL going to play the tried-and-true favorites in heavy rotation every day anyway ... you just won't have to beat them to death the way you do now.  That would have to be a relief to the air staff AND the listeners!!!  And I still say milk your library for vintage sound clips ... you've got one of the richest histories in all of radio.  Why couldn't you air "Animal Stories" every morning at 7:30 for example ... you've got to have YEARS of episodes in the archives ... give people something to look forward to and tune in to hear ... APPOINTMENT RADIO.  (Remember when Brant used to do the WLS Silver Dollar Survey Song Of The Day?  Or John Landecker would count down a classic top ten list?)  There are SO many possibilities that aren't being explored simply so you can play that Journey and Boston and Steve Miller and John Mellencamp song again.  GIVE IT A REST!!!  Entertain us!!!  (kk) 

WLS was my favorite radio station of all time. I spent my childhood and my teen years in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, so I always got WLS, which was a 50,000 watt radio station. I loved it. They broke so many of my records!
Tommy James
That's another thing that WLS seems to forget ... back in the day, their night-time signal was strong enough to reach 48 states!  People all over the country regularly tuned in to listen through the static ... because the station was THAT good!!!  You don't just have a built-in, loyal, local audience ... you've got folks ALL OVER THE COUNTRY who will embrace a return to what made the station famous in the first place.  (kk) 

From FH Reader Bill Hengels:
Listen to this about WLS:

Hi Kent: 
I've been reading your ongoing crusade to bring oldies back to Chicago on WLS-FM. 
I understand that programming an on-line radio station ( is a different thing from programming a major market FM station.  I'm not worried about billing and the corporate pressure that WLS management is up against.
That said, I know a few things about programming an oldies format and I know the business of radio.  What WLS-FM (and other oldies stations) should do in 2014 is program oldies as great music, not old music.  A station quickly becomes typecast as "old" when it constantly gives out dates and history.  I recognize this can be frustrating to fans of the music but remember that radio needs to appeal to younger listeners.  While it's ok to have specialty shows that give out history, the day in / day out format needs
to "feel" contemporary.  Focus on the fact that it's great music ... Forget its age.
The other key is to play more than 500 songs over and over again but do it in a smart way.  It's a given that oldies stations must play the big, recognized songs.  It's in between them where it's important to dig deep and play songs that listeners may not remember but have "the sound".  It keeps the format fresh.  Yes, I said "fresh".  Play thousands (yes "thousands"!) so they don't themselves become burned out.  A mistake oldies stations have made is to claim to dig "deep" but then overplay the songs they dug out thus defeating the purpose.
We play about 500 songs a day on Rewound Radio.  We have no commercials so avoiding burn out is a challenge.  It demands various rotations.  Even so, we've got it programmed so the known songs don't get repeated any more often than three days and the lesser known songs about every 11 days.  That takes a lot of music but it helps the station not sound like a constant repeat.
An over air station like WLS-FM has commercials.  In an ironic way, it's better because the commercials decrease the number of songs per day.  If it were to do what I'm suggesting, it should be possible not to repeat the "big" songs in less than four days and the lesser knowns for 15 days.  With smart dayparting, that rotation can be made to sound even longer.
Bottom line?  Sell it as a "great music", not "old music" and intelligently play the big songs mixed with the lesser known songs.  It works.  Listen to our station.  I'm putting my money where my mouth is every day and, yes, we have listeners in their 30's and 40's to prove it can be done!
-- Allan Sniffen
Rewound Radio

Allan, we've been raving about Rewound Radio for ages now ...BIG fans here ... and there is no disputing the great variety you offer on your station.  Fans can stay tuned in all day without fear of burn-out or repetiveness, which is unheard of in today's terrestrial radio market.  And I agree with you about presenting it as GREAT music rather than "old" music.  Plus, as an added bonus, Rewound runs special features like actual Major Network Top 40 Airchecks and programs from the '60's and '70's on the weekend ... and daily features like Gary Theroux's "History Of Rock And Roll", airing three times a day on the station. 
It's oldies radio at its very best.  (The only thing that would make it better would be to have some of those vintage jocks on board, spinning these tunes again ... personality radio still ranks REALLY high in my book!)    
If you haven't listened yet (and I can't believe there's a Forgotten Hits Reader out there who hasn't!), here's the link again: Click here: Rewound Radio: It's not how old it is... It's how GOOD it is!!