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The AM/FM Blues (our gripes about radio programming)

jfiedler17

Well-Known Member
A guilty pleasure of mine for many years has been Rick Springfield. He's always good for an upbeat pop song. His 1970s-era album Wait For Night was one of my favorites, especially the song "Take a Hand" which was covered by A&M band Head East at one point.

Even though his heyday is long over, he's never stopped making new albums. He just came out with a new one last summer called Automatic, which I found out about by accident on Amazon. It's chock-full of catchy pop tunes and he has not lost his touch for a killer singalong hook.

Yeah, Rick Springfield is a guilty pleasure for me as well. He tends to get savaged by critics, but his songwriting has always been highly infectious, even going all the way back to "Speak to the Sky," and he's still crafting some pretty great singles to this day. Songs for the End of the World (from 2012, if I remember correctly) is another post-heyday album of his that's absolutely overflowing with hooks.
For a guy who has something like 17 or 18 Top 40 hits to his name in the U.S. (the last being 1988's "Rock of Life," if memory serves me right), it's also weird as hell that "Jessie's Girl" is the only one I ever hear on the radio anymore (and way, way too doggone much, at that; I can't scan the radio dial in my car at any given moment without coming across that one, it seems). Most of his other hits have held up really well for me over the years, though, not in the least since radio hasn't worn any of them out. And some of the "filler cuts" on his biggest albums are surprisingly nearly every bit as catchy as the singles, like "Light of Love" or "Carry Me Away" on Working Class Dog (how "Light of Love" got overlooked for consideration as a single is beyond me; it's probably my favorite song on the album next to "Love Is Alright Tonite") or "Tonite" or "Just One Kiss" on Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet.
 
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I never knew that about "It's Alright for You"! Very cool! I'll have a new appreciation for that one anytime I hear it now.

Yeah, Rick Springfield is a guilty pleasure for me as well. He tends to get savaged by critics, but his songwriting has always been highly infectious, even going all the way back to "Speak to the Sky," and he's still crafting some pretty great singles to this day. Songs for the End of the World (from 2012, if I remember correctly) is another post-heyday album of his that's absolutely overflowing with hooks.
For a guy who has something like 17 or 18 Top 40 hits to his name in the U.S. (the last being 1988's "Rock of Life," if memory serves me right), it's also weird as hell that "Jessie's Girl" is the only one I ever hear on the radio anymore (and way, way too doggone much, at that; I can't scan the radio dial in my car at any given moment without coming across that one, it seems). Most of his other hits have held up really well for me over the years, though, not in the least since radio hasn't worn any of them out. And some of the "filler cuts" on his biggest albums are surprisingly nearly every bit as catchy as the singles, like "Light of Love" or "Carry Me Away" on Working Class Dog (how "Light of Love" got overlooked for consideration as a single is beyond me; it's probably my favorite song on the album next to "Love Is Alright Tonite") or "Tonite" or "Just One Kiss" on Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet.

Mike + the Mechanics pretty much vanished off the radar in the U.S. after "The Living Years," sadly, but Rutherford's cut plenty of delightful music since then. (Shame, of course, that Paul Carrack is no longer with them - I'm a big fan of his, not just for his work with M+TM, Ace, and Squeeze, but his too-often-overlooked solo records, like "Don't Shed a Tear" (which still floors me to this day on the rare occasions I hear it) and "One Good Reason" - but Andrew Roachford - formerly of "Cuddly Toy (Feel for Me)" fame - is handling most of the vocals for the band these days and doing a nice job of it.)


I've never heard Acting Very Strange - the reports about his vocals have kinda scared me away from giving it a try - but I quite like his previous solo outing, Smallcreep's Day. Very, very overlooked.

I didn't even realize a Toto version of that song existed! Very fascinating to hear. The lyric seems to be dramatically different from the Boz recording, but the rhythm track seems to be almost fully realized, albeit maybe just a wee bit slower. Kinda weird that Toto sat on that one and didn't include it on their debut. I think that song could have been even bigger - whether for them or for Boz - had it come out sooner than it did.
In this area, we have one station that plays Rick Springfield but as stated, Jessie's Girl gets played the most and I usually change the station. The others that get played are You've Done Nothing For Me and Don't Talk To Strangers with the latter being the least played.
 
In this area, we have one station that plays Rick Springfield but as stated, Jessie's Girl gets played the most and I usually change the station. The others that get played are You've Done Nothing For Me and Don't Talk To Strangers with the latter being the least played.
Yeah, I'm rather surprised that the stations near me that include him on their playlists don't at least toss in "Don't Talk to Strangers" as well, especially seeing as it charted just one spot lower than "Jessie's Girl" did. That'd be a whole lot more tolerable. Most of the FM stations near me seem like they have a well of only five or six dozen songs they pull from and almost always at the same time of day, too - so much so that I can very nearly predict at this point when exactly they'll come on ("Okaaaaaay, 4:32 PM, 'Take on Me' should be coming on right about ... NOW!" :laugh:] The funny thing is that a lot of these stations also brag in their station promos about their "variety." I hear that, and I always think, "Are you kidding me?" :laugh:
 
Most of the FM stations near me seem like they have a well of only five or six dozen songs they pull from and almost always at the same time of day, too - so much so that I can very nearly predict at this point when exactly they'll come on ("Okaaaaaay, 4:32 PM, 'Take on Me' should be coming on right about ... NOW!" :laugh:] The funny thing is that a lot of these stations also brag in their station promos about their "variety." I hear that, and I always think, "Are you kidding me?" :laugh:
It's all research and marketing. They know which songs have the highest positive reactions and which have the highest negative reactions - and all stops in between. So it becomes a matter of figuring how many songs they're going to rotate in their format and letting the computer do the rest. Minor adjustments are done daily to ensure that two similar artists aren't backed up together.

Meanwhile, during special hours, say a lunchtime request hour, the DJ is actually allowed to play a song from the restricted playlist that a caller may have requested. I remember one DJ telling me that he never got to pick a Fleetwood Mac song as they'd all already been gobbled up by the prior DJ every day.

The object of the game is to not annoy anyone with an even slightly unfamiliar song.
 
That's what happens when corporate bean counters and focus groups operate radio stations. And why some markets (like ours) have so few radio options for people who actually enjoy music.

I'd start my own pirate radio station in the basement but I guess the FCC kind of frowns on that practice. 😁
 
That's what happens when corporate bean counters and focus groups operate radio stations. And why some markets (like ours) have so few radio options for people who actually enjoy music.

I'd start my own pirate radio station in the basement but I guess the FCC kind of frowns on that practice. 😁
I totally understand I'm fortunate I still have a part 15 legal fm transmitter that has allowed me to run my own in-house radio station perfectly legal and it only reaches maybe my upstairs neighbors and maybe the immediate parking lot a friend joked "I was top rated in my alley".I consider that a compliment as long as there's still an open FM frequency with enough breathing room ( as several AM stations and long distance out of towers have either planned for or already began snatching up much of the good available FM frequencies) and I know eventually the station I been doing my shows on about 29 years or so could eventually be done away with as has been the case with many college radio stations and 2 historic AM stations in my state of Idaho one in Lewiston and one in Idaho Falls in south east Idaho have ceased operations altogether this year I hate to say it but I know the writing is on the wall. It's very sad putting it mildly
 
Yeah, I'm rather surprised that the stations near me that include him on their playlists don't at least toss in "Don't Talk to Strangers" as well, especially seeing as it charted just one spot lower than "Jessie's Girl" did. That'd be a whole lot more tolerable. Most of the FM stations near me seem like they have a well of only five or six dozen songs they pull from and almost always at the same time of day, too - so much so that I can very nearly predict at this point when exactly they'll come on ("Okaaaaaay, 4:32 PM, 'Take on Me' should be coming on right about ... NOW!" :laugh:] The funny thing is that a lot of these stations also brag in their station promos about their "variety." I hear that, and I always think, "Are you kidding me?" :laugh:
In this area one station will have a playlist for the day. The morning set sometimes might play a song as much as 3 times over the course of 5 hours. The next day you hear the songs played in the afternoon of the previous day in the morning and then the morning songs in the afternoon. They do have another few different songs but the station is very boring. Another station that I have listened to-not by choice- would play a lot of selections as much as 5 times in a 7 hour period.
 
They lack variety nowadays.
I agree when I was a kid in the 70s even a small one in the late 60s radio had tons of variety as well as personality most radio stations had live DJ/announcers ( of which I'm one of the very few remaining at the moment) you can thank the 1996 telecommunications act and other factors like the RIAA and others for enabling the big corporate conglomerates to buy up most of the stations and pretty much destroy them.In my opinion.
 
I think what really hurts music lovers is that stations who cater to "classic" tastes, whether it's oldies, classic rock, soul, etc., are the ones who will play the exact same tracks for years, if not decades, on end. In the rare event I catch our long-running classic rock station playing in a store, they're still beating those same songs to death that they played in the 80s and 90s. We have the added insult here because they assume everyone who lives here loves 60s Motown (uh, no, many of us don't) and will program it heavily while casting aside all the really great oldies that only XM radio used to play.

I didn't like much of what was coming out in pop music from the late 80s onward, and the alternative rock thing kind of ran its course after a handful of years by the mid 90s. Funk, R&B, etc.--same thing. Our one local jazz station, which everyone local still misses to this day, rotated the latest comtemporary jazz while mixing in a few popular tracks from prior decades. (For instance, I used to hear Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" maybe once or twice a month, usually late at night...little things like that were nice touches.) They, too, finally started playing music that wasn't jazz until they chased enough of us away that we tuned out...then they changed the format.

But the point and the advantage to those stations in their prime is that the music was always rotating. As last month's favorites were fading in popularity, newer songs were coming in every week to replace them. That kept them fresh.

The few "specialty" stations were on low-powered AM bands and if you could receive them, the sound quality was so poor that it wasn't worth the effort. The local public radio station (which is tied into a local university) plays absolutely terrible music--instead of playing jazz people can relate to, they get their jollies by playing really obscure, atonal noise, which only comes off as elitist or jazz snobbery. (Hardly anyone I know will even listen to it.)

That's why so many of us tuned out and went to XM Radio (pre-Sirius) or the Internet, where there are literally hundreds of options to choose from. Or like I've done with Pandora, I've rolled a few of my own stations that keep a really nice rotation going for hours.

It's pointless to even discuss programming on terrestrial radio or Sirius--music lovers mean nothing to bean counters, and it'll never change.

That's why we go elsewhere, and why we play records. 👍
 
Yeah, I'm rather surprised that the stations near me that include him on their playlists don't at least toss in "Don't Talk to Strangers" as well, especially seeing as it charted just one spot lower than "Jessie's Girl" did. That'd be a whole lot more tolerable.

So, not by way of defense but explanation (for those who don't know, I work in radio, but news, not music and NPR, not commercial---but I programmed music radio in the 1970s and have kept somewhat current) :

Chart positions from 40 years ago are irrelevant in programming today. All a Billboard chart peak tells you is how a record did, relative to other records then currently popular, in its best week.

If you're living in a top 50 market, the programmers are doing regular music testing. They want to know what records are popular now. And given that the sweet spot in ratings is 25-49 year olds, they're aiming at the center of that demographic---37. So a bit more than half of the people they're trying to attract weren't born when "Jessie's Girl" was a hit.

But they started testing "Jessie's Girl" and the rest of Rick's hits decades ago, when the audience was old enough. If you're hearing it on radio today, it's because it still tests well, even though most of the audience never heard it when new.

If you're not hearing "Don't Talk To Strangers", it's because it doesn't test well.

What's "well"?

What programmers are looking for are consensus songs---songs that the largest number of people in the demographic the station is trying to attract have in common as songs that they love, like, or at the very least will listen to without changing the station when they come on.

That's a pretty small core, and the scores need to be high. A song that tests 75% positive means you have a risk of losing a quarter of your audience when you play it. Very few programmers are willing to take that risk and very few General Managers will let them. There are no 100s---there are damn few 90s---so wherever the station decides to draw the line on scores there is some element of risk.

Most of the FM stations near me seem like they have a well of only five or six dozen songs they pull from and almost always at the same time of day, too - so much so that I can very nearly predict at this point when exactly they'll come on ("Okaaaaaay, 4:32 PM, 'Take on Me' should be coming on right about ... NOW!" :laugh:]

That should never happen. Software exists to manage rotations and PDs should know how to use that tool.

At a minimum, a station should be able to keep the same record out of the same hour for at least four days (assuming we're talking Gold and not a current hit), and out of the same quarter-hour for about two and a half weeks (at that point, if you remember that "Take on Me" played at that same time 16 days ago, it's a you problem, not a them problem).

The funny thing is that a lot of these stations also brag in their station promos about their "variety." I hear that, and I always think, "Are you kidding me?" :laugh:

Yeah. That. Here's the thing. When you ask listeners about "variety", they like it. But when you test that by introducing songs they're less familiar with or have a less favorable attitude toward, they don't consider that "variety". That's when you get comments like "I used to listen to (call letters), but then they started playing all this weird music."

And then you dig in and find out that they weren't playing Frank Zappa backwards---they were playing records that tested slightly less well in an attempt to broaden their library.

"Weird" means "I don't know that record" or "I don't like that record."

"Variety" means "more of the artists who do songs I like----and only those songs I like."

Believe me on this: Programmers would LOVE to play more songs. It would make their job infinitely easier to just say "it was a hit---play it." But there's too much at stake, especially with ratings in real time via PPM, and with the typical listener having five other stations they listen to on a regular basis.
 
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In this area one station will have a playlist for the day. The morning set sometimes might play a song as much as 3 times over the course of 5 hours. The next day you hear the songs played in the afternoon of the previous day in the morning and then the morning songs in the afternoon. They do have another few different songs but the station is very boring. Another station that I have listened to-not by choice- would play a lot of selections as much as 5 times in a 7 hour period.

Not knowing where you are, I can't be specific. But most radio listening is done in small doses. In a top 50 market, people are tuned in for 11-13 minutes at a shot. And they'll come back, typically, four or five times a day.

That person isn't hearing the repetition---they're hearing 16-20 songs a day from that one station, tops. Fewer if they're listening to commercials for some of that time instead of music.
 
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I think what really hurts music lovers is that stations who cater to "classic" tastes, whether it's oldies, classic rock, soul, etc., are the ones who will play the exact same tracks for years, if not decades, on end. In the rare event I catch our long-running classic rock station playing in a store, they're still beating those same songs to death that they played in the 80s and 90s. We have the added insult here because they assume everyone who lives here loves 60s Motown (uh, no, many of us don't) and will program it heavily while casting aside all the really great oldies that only XM radio used to play.

I didn't like much of what was coming out in pop music from the late 80s onward, and the alternative rock thing kind of ran its course after a handful of years by the mid 90s. Funk, R&B, etc.--same thing. Our one local jazz station, which everyone local still misses to this day, rotated the latest comtemporary jazz while mixing in a few popular tracks from prior decades. (For instance, I used to hear Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" maybe once or twice a month, usually late at night...little things like that were nice touches.) They, too, finally started playing music that wasn't jazz until they chased enough of us away that we tuned out...then they changed the format.

But the point and the advantage to those stations in their prime is that the music was always rotating. As last month's favorites were fading in popularity, newer songs were coming in every week to replace them. That kept them fresh.

The few "specialty" stations were on low-powered AM bands and if you could receive them, the sound quality was so poor that it wasn't worth the effort. The local public radio station (which is tied into a local university) plays absolutely terrible music--instead of playing jazz people can relate to, they get their jollies by playing really obscure, atonal noise, which only comes off as elitist or jazz snobbery. (Hardly anyone I know will even listen to it.)

That's why so many of us tuned out and went to XM Radio (pre-Sirius) or the Internet, where there are literally hundreds of options to choose from. Or like I've done with Pandora, I've rolled a few of my own stations that keep a really nice rotation going for hours.

It's pointless to even discuss programming on terrestrial radio or Sirius--music lovers mean nothing to bean counters, and it'll never change.

That's why we go elsewhere, and why we play records. 👍

This.

Radio is first and foremost an audience delivery device for advertising (unless we're talking about non-commercial radio, where very few of the criticisms we're making here apply).

Ratings have to be not only high, but consistent. And the best way to make that happen is consensus records. It just plain works.

What happens if you're a commercial station that decides to program to art and not commerce? Your ratings go down. Advertisers cancel contracts. In the wake of the ratings and the cancellations, demand for airtime on your station decreases---dragging down the amount of money you can charge for those commercials.

At some point, to stay profitable, people start losing their jobs. And it's going to be the single mom working in continuity or the evening dj trying to get a break in the business long before it's the CEO of the company.

As Rudy knows from our conversations here, my musical tastes are so eclectic, I make Pandora cry. Commercial radio isn't for me. And I'm okay with that.
 
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In a top 50 market, people are tuned in for 11-13 minutes at a shot. And they'll come back, typically, four or five times a day.
The worst part is that for many of us, a workplace would keep a radio tuned to the same radio station for weeks if not years, and that's where the repetition would reach the annoyance point after a few days. I had to tolerate our awful classic rock station at one workplace, and friends of mine wonder why I can't listen to Rumours or can't even stomach anything by The Eagles or Aerosmith now. (I've walked out of rooms at audio shows if they play The Eagles, for instance.) At another office, they had the $mooth Jazz station on, and 90% of it all sounded the same, and repeated ad nauseum throughout the day. Then again, it wasn't the same as being tortured by the "beautiful music" station we had on at the family biz. 🤣 Hearing favorites butchered by sappy string arrangements for a dozen years caused PTSD!

Then again, I guess any of those might be preferable to today's Top 40 or "country" stations. 😁

What happens if you're a commercial station that decides to program to art and not commerce? Your ratings go down.
I wonder what happened. Our jazz station was around for decades, one of the first jazz stations in the country, well-loved (especially since listeners were not typical radio listeners--we were more like a community)...yet by the 90s they succumbed to the marketplace and started putting in all the R&B vocalists and other things like $mooth Jazz that none of us wanted to hear, which eventually killed it off. I don't know if it was a change of ownership and/or the station got too expensive to run--that would be my guess.

There is a streaming radio station today that is locally run which claims to be bringing back the past glories of this station, but I can't use a web-based player, so I can't even listen to it. (Many of us will use a direct URL to put the station into our player of choice. This station is run by radio.co and does have the option, but the station owners have to enable it.) I also wonder, since they are using the station's old call letters (while not being on the FM dial anymore), if that will produce a conflict.

History

WJZZ Detroit is an iconic legendary jazz format radio station based in Detroit Michigan with a rich heritage in broadcasting. In 1955, Doctors Haley Bell, Wendell Cox and Robert Bass founded WCHB. WCHB was the first black-owned radio station built from the ground up. Then in 1960, the doctors established WCHD which was the 1st jazz radio station. In 1974, the WCHD call letters were changed to WJZZ. WJZZ consistently held the highest Arbitron rating for Jazz radio stations in the United States.

Due to business concerns the station shut down broadcasting in fall 1996 and remained dormant for 23 years.

The station via the call letters was revived by Rodger Penzabene Jr. in 2015 with an updated logo and was reorganized as WJZZ Detroit Jazz Radio Entertainment to position it as a full service, global media company.
 
The worst part is that for many of us, a workplace would keep a radio tuned to the same radio station for weeks if not years, and that's where the repetition would reach the annoyance point after a few days. I had to tolerate our awful classic rock station at one workplace, and friends of mine wonder why I can't listen to Rumours or can't even stomach anything by The Eagles or Aerosmith now. (I've walked out of rooms at audio shows if they play The Eagles, for instance.) At another office, they had the $mooth Jazz station on, and 90% of it all sounded the same, and repeated ad nauseum throughout the day.

I wonder if that's even a factor now. I would guess the advent of the iPod and earphones might have replaced the "at-work station", but I haven't walked into that many offices in the last decade.

Then again, it wasn't the same as being tortured by the "beautiful music" station we had on at the family biz. 🤣 Hearing favorites butchered by sappy string arrangements for a dozen years caused PTSD!

There aren't many, but every now and then, I'll run across an unscoped aircheck of a beautiful music FM from the 70s or 80s. And I'll approach it with as fresh an attitude as I can---"Maybe this wasn't so bad. Maybe I was just being an annoying teenager."

Nope. It was mostly truly God-awful stuff. Arrangements that demonstrated a lack of understanding of the song and a lack of taste. (Click the "Watch On YouTube" link after it tells you streaming on other sites has been disabled by the owner):



Then again, I guess any of those might be preferable to today's Top 40 or "country" stations. 😁

Click the unmute in the lower right when you start this:


I wonder what happened. Our jazz station was around for decades, one of the first jazz stations in the country, well-loved (especially since listeners were not typical radio listeners--we were more like a community)...yet by the 90s they succumbed to the marketplace and started putting in all the R&B vocalists and other things like $mooth Jazz that none of us wanted to hear, which eventually killed it off. I don't know if it was a change of ownership and/or the station got too expensive to run--that would be my guess.

Don't rule out demographics. We're among some of the youngest people to have listened to pure jazz radio stations---especially commercial ones.

There is a streaming radio station today that is locally run which claims to be bringing back the past glories of this station, but I can't use a web-based player, so I can't even listen to it. (Many of us will use a direct URL to put the station into our player of choice. This station is run by radio.co and does have the option, but the station owners have to enable it.) I also wonder, since they are using the station's old call letters (while not being on the FM dial anymore), if that will produce a conflict.

If nobody is currently using those calls, they're probably fine.

A few years ago, some of the people directly and tangentially involved with KNX-FM in Los Angeles during its "Mellow Rock" glory days of the 1970s put together a first-rate web version of it---right down to the audio processing. The KNX-FM calls had not been in use since 1989, so no worries.

Until about three years ago, when KNX (AM) decided to simulcast on FM and there suddenly WAS a KNX-FM.

And, cue the letter from Audacy's lawyers.

That streaming station is now "TheMellowSound-dot-net (a KNX/FM 93 Tribute)":

 
Nope. It was mostly truly God-awful stuff. Arrangements that demonstrated a lack of understanding of the song and a lack of taste.
I know the feeling. I had a musical background and often knew the originals intimately, so hearing them turned into "beautiful" string arrangements was torture. Trust me, at that point, I was begging to hear a commercial! 🤣

I did get some quiet satisfaction though. We had two beautiful music stations on FM at the time. But at some point in the mid to late 80s, the station got bought out and it turned into one of those obnoxious Top 40 stations (or not quite Top 40...can't even put a finger on it). So I can imagine the shock our secretary had when she turned on the radio that morning! I noticed quite early that the radio dial had been moved when I came into the office.

That second station still played the gloppy strings, but would occasionally slip in something normal. Only, they'd fade it out if it got too raucous. (Had to be on tape or carts? The fade-outs were the same each time. Al Jarreau's "Teach Me Tonight" was one of them--it was fine until David Sanborn's solo started, then it was a quick fade. They didn't want that *gasp* noise on their station!)

I wonder if that's even a factor now. I would guess the advent of the iPod and earphones might have replaced the "at-work station", but I haven't walked into that many offices in the last decade.
Most offices I know of have rules against wearing any type of ear buds or headphones, and a decades-old radio sits on top of the file cabinet. Even garages are blaring rock stations all day long--our local Costco is a noisy place when you walk past the tire bays.

Until about three years ago, when KNX (AM) decided to simulcast on FM and there suddenly WAS a KNX-FM.

And, cue the letter from Audacy's lawyers.
I suspect that will happen with WJZZ. They were the perfect call letters for the station and actually, I'm surprised someone isn't still using the call letters somewhere. I still have a t-shirt with the logo on it, stored away somewhere. Oddly, the shirt seems to have shrunk a few sizes while in storage. 🤔

1702742160820.png

Seeing that sticker on the rear window of a car (it was clear, vs. the white background pictured here) was like announcing you were a part of the local brotherhood. And at jazz concerts locally, the audience was peppered with more than a few of those shirts. It was that ingrained into the local community that it was a shame to see it go away.
 
I know the feeling. I had a musical background and often knew the originals intimately, so hearing them turned into "beautiful" string arrangements was torture. Trust me, at that point, I was begging to hear a commercial! 🤣

It only got worse as time went on. By the mid-80s, most of the recording artists whose work had been used no longer had label contracts, and the syndicators for the automated beautiful music formats actually hired orchestras (often overseas, for cheaper non-union rates) to record their own "beautiful music" instrumental covers.

One day in 1986, shortly after I'd moved to Phoenix, I was in a store that was playing one of those stations and found myself humming along to the song---and then wondering----wait---what IS this?

Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark".

That was weird.

I did get some quiet satisfaction though. We had two beautiful music stations on FM at the time. But at some point in the mid to late 80s, the station got bought out and it turned into one of those obnoxious Top 40 stations (or not quite Top 40...can't even put a finger on it). So I can imagine the shock our secretary had when she turned on the radio that morning! I noticed quite early that the radio dial had been moved when I came into the office.

That second station still played the gloppy strings, but would occasionally slip in something normal. Only, they'd fade it out if it got too raucous. (Had to be on tape or carts? The fade-outs were the same each time. Al Jarreau's "Teach Me Tonight" was one of them--it was fine until David Sanborn's solo started, then it was a quick fade. They didn't want that *gasp* noise on their station!)

Happened in Phoenix, too. There were two beautiful music FMs that were in a head-to-head battle, KQYT (Quiet 95) and KMEO ("Cameo").

KQYT bailed out first---around 1987---at first simulcasting their adult contemporary AM, KOY, and then morphing into a CHR as Y95.

"Cameo" was owned by Bonneville---the broadcasting arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons). It held in as a pure beautiful music for two more years, and then, in 1989, began the slowest morph imaginable to adult contemporary.

It took six months, and one of the first records it played was Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence"---but it edited out the vocals and wound up with a less than two-minute Bruce Hornsby instrumental.

Most offices I know of have rules against wearing any type of ear buds or headphones, and a decades-old radio sits on top of the file cabinet. Even garages are blaring rock stations all day long--our local Costco is a noisy place when you walk past the tire bays.

I need to get out more.

I suspect that will happen with WJZZ. They were the perfect call letters for the station and actually, I'm surprised someone isn't still using the call letters somewhere. I still have a t-shirt with the logo on it, stored away somewhere. Oddly, the shirt seems to have shrunk a few sizes while in storage. 🤔

1702742160820.png

Seeing that sticker on the rear window of a car (it was clear, vs. the white background pictured here) was like announcing you were a part of the local brotherhood. And at jazz concerts locally, the audience was peppered with more than a few of those shirts. It was that ingrained into the local community that it was a shame to see it go away.

The trouble is that jazz is one of the least popular formats---and so low on the average person's radar as to not really register. The station I work for (an NPR news station) is KXJZ. The call letters go back to when we were a jazz station.

The NPR station in Phoenix is KJZZ. Same deal. Began as Jazz, morphed to NPR news. In the past decade, they've had issues with younger people who can't envision a jazz station and pronounce it (forgive me, but it's true) K-Jizz.
 
Philadelphia had WJJZ on 106.1, but it wasn't always thus. The station had floundered with a lot of formats over the years, beginning life as a beautiful music station with the WQAL call letters (for "quality", I suppose). Then it morphed into WWSH, still beautiful music but now called "Wish".

After a time as a top 40 format under the names of "Electric" (WTRK - we called it "turkey") and 'Eagle" (WEGX), it finally settles into WJJZ from 1993 through 2006. Then it was back to more Adult Contemporary as WISX which they called Mix.

Meanwhile, my company, Greater Media snapped up a station based in New Jersey and flipped the format to Smooth Jazz where it stayed for a few years. It never really took off, even with the WJJZ call letters and some of the DJs. Finally they flipped it to the simulcast of our AM station which had switched to Sports Talk.

Again, the important thing to remember is that commercial radio is a business. If it's not making money, then it's likely to change formats, especially nowadays.
 
One day in 1986, shortly after I'd moved to Phoenix, I was in a store that was playing one of those stations and found myself humming along to the song---and then wondering----wait---what IS this?

Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark".
That is disturbing on a few levels! 😁

I need to get out more.
A lot of offices I know of are very phone-centric, or require a lot of interaction, so earbuds/headphones are a "wall" that employers don't want hindering activities.

The trouble is that jazz is one of the least popular formats---and so low on the average person's radar as to not really register. The station I work for (an NPR news station) is KXJZ. The call letters go back to when we were a jazz station.
When WJZZ was in its prime, it supported our large, diverse, and very active jazz community. It was probably the late 80s when it started to fizzle out, and by the 90s the non-jazz was finding its way into the playlist. The only alternative was a local university/public radio station whose jazz was so outside the norm that they were only amusing themselves by playing it.

Unfortunately, even jazz itself has become so splintered in recent decades that no one station could play something and keep everyone happy. That single station is responsible for many of the artists I've listened to for 40 or more years now, lifelong favorites, some who have kept on releasing records all this time.

We still have a $mooth Jazz station in town, but it's stuck on one of the alternate HD channels on FM radio, so really, the only place to hear it now is in the car. Many of the offices, if they still keep a radio playing, are older and only handle analog FM.

We did get a small start-up in recent years that plays jazz in the late evenings, and classical during the day. I don't know if I should be welcoming the variety, or digging their grave for them. 😁

I thought of starting my own Internet radio station but I'd need subscribers and/or sponsors to make it work. Bandwidth and blanket licensing are not inexpensive.
 
We did get a small start-up in recent years that plays jazz in the late evenings, and classical during the day.

We have a sister station, KXPR, that is Classical, but more than a decade ago when NPR news programming took over KXJZ, we moved the jazz to 7-midnight on KXPR, which we label CapRadio Music. It's a great station in both formats, and the audience seems cool with the transition every evening.
 
Not knowing where you are, I can't be specific. But most radio listening is done in small doses. In a top 50 market, people are tuned in for 11-13 minutes at a shot. And they'll come back, typically, four or five times a day.

That person isn't hearing the repetition---they're hearing 16-20 songs a day from that one station, tops. Fewer if they're listening to commercials for some of that time instead of music.
I am in Eastern VA.
WVKL is very repetitious and Z-104 would play excessive repeats. I now listen to WFOS which is now part of our local NPR station.
 
I am in Eastern VA.
WVKL is very repetitious and Z-104 would play excessive repeats.

Well, those are both current hit-based stations. And stations like that have always had tight rotations. Even in the 60s, Top 40 stations were playing the six or seven biggest hits every hour and 40 minutes. Less popular songs, on their way up or down the chart, were generally played between every two hours and 10 minutes to every four hours or so.

By the 70s, many of the most successful stations (WABC, KCBQ) were playing their hottest current records every hour and ten minutes.

"Excessive" is in the ear of the behearer. Looking at the latest Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News Nielsen Audio ratings, WVKL is a consistent number one month after month, usually at least three points ahead of the number two station in the market.

Z104 is lower-ranked, but is on an upward trend that could put it in the top ten if it continues.
 
Well, those are both current hit-based stations. And stations like that have always had tight rotations. Even in the 60s, Top 40 stations were playing the six or seven biggest hits every hour and 40 minutes. Less popular songs, on their way up or down the chart, were generally played between every two hours and 10 minutes to every four hours or so.

By the 70s, many of the most successful stations (WABC, KCBQ) were playing their hottest current records every hour and ten minutes.

"Excessive" is in the ear of the behearer. Looking at the latest Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News Nielsen Audio ratings, WVKL is a consistent number one month after month, usually at least three points ahead of the number two station in the market.

Z104 is lower-ranked, but is on an upward trend that could put it in the top ten if it continues.
I don't listen to either one of them.
 
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