Thursday, May 12, 2005

Radio on a First-Name Basis

According to Yahoo!, radio stations would like for people to listen to them:

As more consumers turn a deaf ear to traditional radio, stations increasingly are switching formats. The Internet, iPods, computer games, podcasting, commercial-free satellite radio and staid programming have combined to slice average weekly listening time 9% since 1998, prompting many "terrestrial" commercial stations to jettison even relatively strong formats, such as rock, in several big markets.

[One hot concept is] Jack. Aka Bob, Alice and other first-name monikers, the format focuses on '70s, '80s and '90s hits, sprinkled with current tunes. Target audience: twenty-somethings to baby boomers. A hit in Canada since 2002, Jack could be in 100 U.S. markets this year. Jack is often backed by "throw away your iPod" marketing hype because it employs playlists of 1,200 or more songs - triple most oldies-style music stations and a bit closer to iPod capacity. "Jack's a reaction to stations that are tightly formatted and predictable," Inside Radio editor Tom Taylor says. Baltimore station WSQR jettisoned its 17-year-old oldies format for Jack on May 4. "With Jack, people don't know what to expect, and we hope that's what they'll gravitate to," says programming director Dave LaBrozzi.
As with the "Bob" station I wrote about, I imageine the "Jack" people think that Jack is an extremely funny name, but they have the right idea about making radio better. I bet that as more and more radio stations switch to the "shuffle" concept--where the listening experience is more like listening to your iPod--people will get nostalgic about stations that play just one format. It's like those times when you get sick of shuffle and just want to listen to an entire album, but it's nice to have both options. The main thing that radio needs is more variety (stations with traditional formats would play more bands in the genre they play), better DJs, and fewer commercials. I know they are working on the first and third things, but good luck with the DJs. [By the way: Did you ever notice that the DJs who are the worst technically--bad voice, dead air, etc.--play the best music?]

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