More About Move/TV Music Synergy

March 28th, 2017 No comments

Following my post about playing Goldfinger a few minutes after the Bond movie let out so’s some folks would hear it on the way home and, we hoped, be getting an extra little shot of feel-good juice from our station. Here’s how such a thing can be done today. Take The Sopranos. Season Five, in the opening segment something happens, Tony is pissed, slams the car door and takes off up the driveway. And out blasts “Heaven Only Knows” a solid Country rocker from Emmylou Harris. Now, the single wasn’t a big hit. Only got into the Top 20 in ’89. The Sopranos episode first aired fifteen years later. I moved it into a hot rotation for a few weeks after that episode first aired. The series, of course is iconic and continues to draw viewers today and I still schedule it in a Light Gold rotation. One could take something from The Sopranos for just about any format. Rock, Salsa, Classical. Here’s a list that shows every song used in every episode of the series. If you found something that fits your format, maybe the one that was on Tony’s soundtrack would pump just a bit more juice into your music mix than the ordinary Oldie would.

Here’s an up-to-date usage of the idea. HBO has another solid hit mini-series with “Big Little Lies” that made prominent use of The Temptations classic “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” in all the advance promos and trailers and was the background music for an extended seies of scenes at the end of Episode Six when some heavy shit was coming down. If I were programming an Oldies station this winter and spring, I’d have that one moved into Power Gold until at least the first of June.

I’ve always paid attention to the music used in movies and on tv, especially the music in the Hit shows. Whenever I hear something that is in my format, I pump up the spins on the station.


Playing Goldfinger After The Movie Ends

March 27th, 2017 No comments

Before I started my 7 to 10:30 pm airshift one Saturday night in early ’65, my program director, the guy who’d hired me told me to play “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey at a specific time that evening. This was a surprise because he was the same guy who’d already schooled me that successful radio stations played the hits and “Goldfinger” was not a hit. It peaked at #21 and was on the Billboard cart for just nine weeks. Still, I was to spin it at the given time because it was approximately ten minutes after the James Bond movie ended at the local drive-in movie. He wanted people to hear it on their way home, to get another little taste of the hit movie. Buzz Bennett was a great explainer. He’d have said something like, “It’s a hit movie and the song reminds people of the movie so maybe some of those people will make a mental association that this radio station is in the groove with whatever it is they like.”

I took that to heart. Throughout my career, I’ve paid attention to the music being used on TV and in the movies, and when appropriate, I’d juiced my playlist with songs that echo the visuals from other media. When the hit show “Northern Exposure” had a Patsy Cline oldie playing on the jukebox in one long scene, I put it into a heavy rotation for the next week. This past week, the hit show “The Americans” had the two lead actors dancing together to Alabama’s “Old Flame”, a huge hit in ’81 that hasn’t been much heard on Country radio stations over the past 15 years. Popping that into a hot rotation for the next week or ten days now still makes sense to me.

This is a small thing really, barely perceptible. But I think it is elemental. A successful music radio station resonates and associates with other media.


The New Country Tradition – My New Format

February 6th, 2017 No comments

My hand-tooled Country music formatting and scheduling service is now available for broadcast stations in the U. S.

Working with The Talent Farm syndication service, I provide my personally curated hour-by-hour music schedule to subscribing stations. The daily playlist is delivered directly into the station’s playout/automation using the services of Syncronicity. The full library is supplied in .wav format. New playlist adds are immediately downloaded to the station’s automation/playout system.

Radio managers, program directors and decision-makers can hear the actual music flow on a private, linked page. Send your request to me at this address:, or Phone: 512.392.2415


Drop the WWW, Please

January 11th, 2017 No comments

Advertising copywriters, Please. The ten syllables in your ad copy are no longer relevant. “da bul you, da bul you, da bul you dot” …is pointless now. we don’t have to type it in to get anywhere anymore. Like for this site. No need to type, just gets you here.

And program directors should ban it from all mentions of the station’s website. Just have the announcers go straight to it: “find us on the web at” gets the job done.


The Importance of the DJ

January 9th, 2017 No comments

Found in my archives, a short memo I posted in the control room in the summer of ’80.:

    Folks, A recent RadioIndex survey7 show the DJ is ver important to a listener’s enjoyment of his/her station. Well over half – 66.5% – said so. The jock is particularly important to 12-17 year old boys, 18-24 females and 25-24 men.

So that’s from thirty-seven years ago and the aural world has changed. Nobody’d heard the word “internet” and most people had no more than three stations that played the music they preferred. Few were fully satisfied with their favorite stations because that is impossible. But they all Liked their favorite station a lot, it was a major part of their lives. And some of them truly loved their station. It was part of their family. I’ve not yet encountered a single person who says they love Pandora.


The Power Of Sound

January 6th, 2017 No comments

The Moyes Research company has produced the best promote-radio spot I’ve ever heard. This is brilliant copywriting and perfect presentation. Hear it here.:


Seven Songs

December 21st, 2016 No comments

At any time, each listener has seven favorite new songs. Everything else in the library is just part of the landscape.

Seven that s/he can name if asked the question: Can you name all of your favorite new songs? Seven is the most of any product that can be named according to the original “positioning” publications from Trout and Ries, the Mad Men type guys of their era. The book “Positioning” was published in ’80 and became the guiding-star idea for radio program directors seeking magical smoke that would help pull more listeners to their stations. Anything that got the cohort thinking about how to do the best with the product was good thing.

The big boys, RKO most prominently, had distilled the modern music fundamentals in the latter 60s. That group were the best. It was radio with a solid front line and a fancy, stunting backfield. Music radio got to gettin’ real good in the 70s as those basics were copied and spread. PDs freely shared ideas at radio programming conferences because at that time, one wasn’t sharing ideas with The Competition. All of the people at the pow-wow were from different markets, see, and we loved tellin’ tales and talking about our promotions and our stunts with new records and how we constructed our format-hour clocks. And gettin’ high and drunk together.

In the 80’s, good as we were as format masters, the competition started getting more intense. FM rock had first reared it’s head in San Francisco in ’67. Old Top 40 rock jock named Tom Donahue launched it buying time from a church-owned station and setting up shop in the church basement. He of KFWB in LA, the behemoth Top 40 from the latter 50’s until Ron Jacobs hit town as PD of KHJ. (’64?) Progressive Rock, Tom called it.

Music radio on AM held on until the end of the 70s when Disco killed it. AM program directors did not know how to deal with Disco. And there were half a dozen FM signals in all the top markets doing nothing special and ready to jump, to try something new. Donna Summer. Ka-Pow!

Until the FM wave began, a PD in any market had only one other guy to deal with, one other pop music station to take on directly. In most cities, the AM rocker that had the best signal was top rated even if it wasn’t the ‘best’ station. The other AM rocker had signal problems, a serious disadvantage and had to innovate and out-promote the big guy. (see my post “Boston Tests New Music”)

Come the 80’s, FM had fully taken over and Pop was on three or more good frequencies in every big market and on maybe a handful more stations with lousy signals, but still pulled a few ratings numbers. Fragmentation had arrived. That was new to radio guys. Competing with one other station was a breeze. Competing with four was a new conundrum. “Positioning” helped lot of us because it explained a simple way of understanding the problem. All the smart kids embraced it.

Now, I say all that to say this. Seven Songs. That’s the main thing I took away from that book.

Our listener likes a lot of music, but at any moment in time the typical listener can name just seven songs off the top of his/her head. And those are the most important things in your station’s library. But…and this is the big Q…each listener has a different head-list. Some of them cross over to other listeners, they share some co-favorites. The share lists are always different by 50% from listener to listener, my guess.

So, say we got a hundred listeners, each with seven personal super-faves that they share with some of the other 99. If you could find the most common songs, the ones that are in the Top 7 on most of the listeners’ lists, then THERE are your Power Hits for the moment.


Boston Tests New Music & Flunks Out (1972)

December 12th, 2016 No comments

Going through my archives, I found this clipped from Rolling Stone in January of ’72. Written by the excellent reporter Timothy Crouse, this article was one of the seminal influences on my thinking about radio programming, music selection and also what a frustrating and capricious career I was involved in. I never met John Garabedian but this account of his work at WMEX inspired me, even as it drove home the fact that in the business of music radio programming, no matter how solid a station one might develop there was still no job security. Yet we did it. Because we loved it.



How Many Commercials Are Too Many ?

November 24th, 2016 No comments

Four in a single cluster is one too many. Now this is ancient research data on the subject, talking 1980’s, but I see no reason to believe the findings would have changed. The study has respondents listening to an hour of radio and later being questioned about the commercial content. One of the areas of inquiry sought to answer the question above. The report said three ads in a row was acceptable by all, not intrusive. When the cluster had four spots, a significant percentage said that was too many. With five spots, the majority said too many. With six spots, every respondent agreed that was too many commercials.

Considering that, I concluded the ideal the ideal music radio format plan should be: Two songs, three ads, two songs, three ads. The station’s commercial breaks would always be shorter than the average length of the songs in the library, even if all three spots were :60’s. Listeners would come to realize that when this station went into a commercial run, it wouldn’t be long before another song came, they would become conditioned to that and would be less likely to punch the button to another station when the first ad came on.

Now bear in mind, music radio program directors had long pondered this thing; where to put the spot breaks so as to gain some advantage over the competition. When the Top 40 Radio battles for market-share began to heat up in the 60s, the first thing done was the upstart station moved it’s newscast from the top of the hour to :55. Then when the competitor was going into his newscast, the upstart would be blasting a hit song whenever a listener punched the button to switch stations. Of course the upstart had to do news too, but by getting into the new first, at :55, if a listener punched away she’d hear no more than one and a half songs before that station hit launched their newscast and the button puncher would come right back. That was the theory, anyway.

Next came something fresh: Twenty-Twenty News. The two hourly newscasts were positioned at 20 past the hour and 20 before the hour. This allowed the station to be in a music sweep across both the top and the bottom of every hour when virtually every other station on the dial was in a newscast. Brilliant move, it was. Bill Drake and/or Ron Jacobs conceived the idea about 1965 or so.

Back to advertising content. Commercials are not a tune out. Too Many Commercials is a tune out and so is “ads I don’t like”. Now that second part, we can’t do much about. One spot that you think is informative and entertaining, I mind think is silly and irritating. And vice/versa. We can’t do much about “ads I don’t like.” But we can do something to lessen the negative effects that ads have in our programming flow. And the best way is to follow the research, so it would seem.

Now I related this information and my opinion about it far and wide in my most active consulting days of the 80s and 90s and nobody would try it. I mean, there was a time when I was the golden boy on the team, when some of my clients considered me to be indispensable to their ratings success. And even those guys wouldn’t go with my 2-3-2-3 formation. So you read this now and maybe it makes sense to you. Try it if you will and let me know how it goes for you.


Announcer Notes – May/June ’82

November 20th, 2016 No comments

Disc jockeys have the mistaken impression that they are only in the entertainment business. They are also in the Information business. They move ideas from one place to another. Commercials are ideas. A song is essentially an idea. DJ success on the air has as much to do with how they are saying something as with what they are saying.

Every song you play is somebody’s favorite. Every one who tunes to us wants to hear their favorites, the ones that have personal meaning. And they never want to hear anyone making fun of something they hold dear. They don’t want to hear anything derogatory about MY song.
A Disc Jockey can’t take the risk of saying anything negative about any of the songs being played. Even to insinuate distaste with the tone of voice is poison.