Radio Stuff. Still posting comments about Country music but Music 1's taken over my working life now. As time allows, I'll be posting thoughts and ideas from my archives

Pop Music Radio Formatting

I got a question from the other side of the world; a club DJ who is now charged with being the program director of a music station in a developing country that’s never had a western style CHR/Pop/Top 40 formatted station before. FYI, here’s the email I responded with….a quick blue print of the basic structure as I came to know it.

club DJ is totally unlike programming a radio station.
very few Club DJs have made successful radio programmers
because of this, the thinking must be adjusted.
maybe try to ‘forget’ what you know about club work.

i understand that the cultures and listening habits and
the music preferences of people in one part of the world
may be quite different from others, so not all you read
in my writings will necessarily apply to what you are doing.

some generalizations about Pop Music radio

Small Library: No more than about 1500 songs; but
the most successful stations play less than 1000. there
are many, many “great” records, but there are also
many many listening options. people can find any song
they want on their phone and computer. we must
concentrate on a narrow selection of songs that we
hope will appeal to the widest variety of people.
and…every time a listener tunes it, he/she should
hear a good, favorite song immediately. that is
accomplished only by playing the biggest, most popular
hits all the time, over and over.

Hot (or Heavy) the Top Hits, the most popular of the moment.
usually this will be 9 to eleven titles. scheduled three or four
times an hour. a very heavy turnover…all the songs repeat play
ever 3:15 to 3:45

Medium: the other best new songs of the moment. some re
on the way into the Hots…some have been in the Hots and
are now moving down to less daily play.
15 to 25 tracks….these to play about 5 times a day

Light or (new Add)….new songs added to the library in the
recent days or weeks. five to nine tracks or so, set to schedule
about 3 times a day

Recurrent (Recent Hits) … the really big, popular hits of the
past 6 to 18 months. these all were in the Hot rotation during
their early life. now people love them, but don’t need to hear
them so frequently. set to play each song about 10 times a week.

Power Gold – The biggest of the big hits of the past, all
more than 18 months old. Youth formatted stations may have
songs that are no older than 5 years in this group.
stations formatted for more mature, adult listeners may have
songs that go back 10 to 12 years.
formatted for three to five plays a week.

Secondary Gold…. everything else. “spice” songs, filler
songs used when a few minutes needs to be filled somewhere.
all should have been at least Top 10 chart hits in their
day as a Current hit. Formatted for a few plays per month.

do not be concerned with beats-per-minute..that is useful
in clubs to keep the dance going, but is not important at
all on radio.

be little concerned with Artist Separation. some guys try to
have at least 2 or 3 hours before another song by a hit
artist plays. the audience loves the artist? so play the
artist as often. i set all my artists for a 1 hour separation, no more.
and many times i will break the rule and play two-in-a-row by
the artist. then i will ANNOUNCE that “we’re playing two songs
by the superstar back to back”…and make a mini-event of it.

for music flow rules, i set only two. i forbid two slow songs
from playing back – to – back because i want to run an
energetic, uptempo music mix. if i were doing a “soft” format radio
station, this would not be a concern.

i also put a rule preventing two female songs from scheduling
back to back. this because only about 1/3 of hit songs are by
women singers, so i want that minority to be spread thru the
hour, not playing next to each other. but, sometimes i break
this rule, as well, whenever it “feels” right to me…like
this particular song by a woman sounds good next to
that particular song, so i do it from time to time.

i say: Keep it Under 30 Seconds.
i would tell my DJs: you can talk about anything you want so long
as you are not negative, so long as you are not suggestive or
offensive or being rude. mostly you should talk about the music
and the singers and things in the community and things the
radio station is doing. just keep your rap to 30 seconds or less.
you have six or seven openings for your talk every hour, so you
have opportunity to express yourself and be interesting to listeners.

Radio Contesting

Some company named NuVooDoo Media did a survey about radio contesting. With an in-tab of 3500, it’s a sizable sample and should have good reliability. The take-way was over a third said they’d not go to a station to get a prize worth under a hundred bucks if they won. That’s nothing particularly new, anyContinue Reading

Music Scheduling Software Fails

What’s Wrong With Music Scheduling Software? Consider this: At the end of the 70’s, radio’s top program directors had developed rotation systems that ensured songs in each category got equal play; that Currents didn’t schedule in the same quarter-hour day after day; that all Oldies got play in all the dayparts, that ‘this’ type ofContinue Reading

Music 1, PlayoutONE and Classic Rock

From One Of Our Music 1 Users: Hey Steve … just thought I’d drop you a line and tell you that I took your advice and checked out PlayoutOne – loved it – and purchased it. It is great to be able to use Music 1 with it for the scheduling. I am broadcasting aContinue Reading

Slacker Gets Disc Jockeys

Today’s (6.24.16) news brief from the RAIN newsletter has an article about what’s called “the discovery wars”. That’s the competition between Spotify, Slacker, SoundCloud, Pandora, as they try to hook more listening. The biggest draw for listening is new music. Quoting Edison research, over 50% of the population is interested in “keeping up to date”Continue Reading

Music 1 – The Most Efficient Tool In The Box

Being the old radio vet that I am, I still remember those articles that would appear about every 18 months or so in Radio & Records Magazine. One of the format columnists would do a survey with their reporting stations with questions about their choice and use of music scheduling software. The stand-out question forContinue Reading

Radio: What’s Missing

A couple of years ago, I read an article by Sean Ross and teed-off on it. I don’t remember if I ever even sent it to him. Today I came across the rather long ramble that I’d put to paper back then. Skimmed through it and decided to share it here. ———- 11.27.14 I readContinue Reading

Playing Movie Music

Back when I was an itty bitty baby DJ, I lucked into working for one of the great programming minds of the time. One of his tricks was to check the movie show times for any film featuring a hit song. When “Goldfinger” finally got to our town in the early spring of ’65, heContinue Reading

The Best Time To Be A Media Entrepreneur

I got this link off James Cridland’s blog. I was lucky enough to get into my career when I was 16. If I was that kid today, I’d print this guy’s list and pin it to my bedroom wall. And probably tape it inside my high school locker, too. I wanted to be IN it.Continue Reading

Blue Ain’t Your Color – Keith Urban (Capitol)

Good gawd, this is a brilliant record. A classic it will be. Everything about this one is perfect. Fabulous on so many levels. Essentially, it’s a pick-up song. A guy talking up a gal in a bar. But it transcends the genre. The arrangement pays homage with it’s hints of influence. When was the lastContinue Reading