Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Eve

31° - overcast at 9:47pm

A quiet New Year's Eve - pretty typical for us. I can't recall the last year we went out on New Year's Eve. Sometime before children.

Watching "Wag The Dog" on TV right now with my wife and 12-year old.

I've struggled with writing here all day; finding the right words to sum up the past year. Its been one of change for yours truly - and related to that - another year of continued downsizing for our industry.

Last week - after presenting some new stats from Arbitron - Fred Jacobs offered a question on his
blog. Fred's entire post:

Arbitron's preliminary release from RADAR 95 will make you think. All told, 233 million Americans listen to radio weekly. And 95% of Adults 18-49 with a college degree and a yearly household income of $50,000+ still tune in.

So how can a medium with this kind of reach be struggling so mightily? Just asking.

Radio ain't like it used to be. But its far from dead. It just needs a new attitude.

That said - with coffee this morning - I did my usual perusal of blogs and industry sites - and came across a poll on Larry Shannon's
Radio Daily News - seeking nominations for RDN's Radio Person Of The Year.

I couldn't get too excited by the usual list of suspects - but one candidate stood out:

"All those Laid Off Employees of Clear Channel, CBS Radio, et al, who devoted their immense talents to an industry that has forgotten how to appreciate them."

My vote went in.
There's too many great people - from air talent to program directors to GMs - and others in-between who've been downsized.

Only dreaming - but what if 2008 became the year of "sizing up" with the talent pool thats become available.
And that's assuming the laid-off talent will consider having the industry back.

Here's a toast that 2008 will bring the leadership necessary to get radio out of its apparent inferiority complex - and will once again realize the importance of investing in the product - including the people and personalities that make radio unique among media choices.

And may the next year be one of your best too.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

32° -cloudy at 1:06pm

Been up since 5:30 or so. Working the day job from home.

Listening: Since 8am (ET) to Bob Stroud on WDRV with "Rock 'N Roll Roots". Seaver on The Drive right now. Good tunes.

Been listening:
To Lee Arnold's WORJ.COM much more frequently as of late. Always hearing oh-wow songs that bring my head back to certain points of my career. Lots of stuff I played on the radio when it was originally released.

I can recall the album and label art when I hear some songs - can picture them playing on that big old Gates 16" turntable (or in some cases - a Technics SP-10).

Lee surprised me late Friday afternoon with a track from Renaissance - and did I hear some Splinter in the last day too?

He programs from home with automation and music scheduling software. Very impressive.

Still contemplating my own Live 365 station; discussed the possibility with a potential partner-in-crime this past week.

Speaking of Mr. Arnold:
I did finish reading "WHOoPLA: The Greatest Rock Radio Stunt Ever" - written by V. Scott Beddome. You feel the drama, pain and triumph with the words written by Scott.

Read the entire book online

Could something like this still happen in today's corporate environment? Perhaps. But given that there's so few real rock wars happening anywhere these days there's little incentive.

Rick Kaempfer:
Overlooked this last Sunday. Rick's Chicago Radio Spotlight was on WLUP/Chicago night talent "Byrd".

Byrd's story is pretty awesome: from International Falls, Minnesota to Chicago - with stops at KSHE/St. Louis; 98 Rock/Baltimore; KOMP/Las Vegas - plus airwork north of the border. Read Rick's interview here.

Amazed. Still by the number of classic rock stations that did nothing special for Christmas - and apparently nothing special for New Years Eve/New Years Day. All it takes is a little effort and imagination.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bringing In The New Year with Classic Rock

26° - overcast at 9:45pm

Classic Rock Radio brings in 2008.

Countdowns appear to be the main event; but there's some other great features around the dial too.

In progress:
CFMI/Vancouver kicked off a 500-song countdown on Boxing Day (that's the day after Christmas for us here in the States) and it runs through New Years Day.

KZOK/Seattle began a Top 1000-song countdown on Christmas Day - concluding on New Years Day.

In Scranton -
WEZX/Scranton is in the midst of their Top 1007 countdown.

WAXQ/New York is replaying its Top 1043 songs of all-time (it did this over Thanksgiving) starting New Years Eve at 1pm.

Tucson's KLPX is spending the last day of the year counting down the Top 25 Classic Rock Albums Of All Time" as voted by listeners.

WAOR/South Bend is soliciting listener votes on their three favorite classic rock songs for a Top 30 Countdown on New Year's Eve. Voting by text message.

Check out WAOR's execution of the voting process

In Kansas City, KCFX is doing their top 1001 classic rock countdown. KZEP/San Antonio is all party songs starting at 8pm New Year's Eve.

WZLX/Boston does it live - live performances of classic rock favs by request starting at noon New Year's Eve. WTKW/Syracuse is bringing in the New Year with an A to Z marathon.

WABX/Evansville doing all requests ("happy YOU year") from Workforce members now through New Year's Day.

PD John Hager and
WGRF/Buffalo celebrating the last day of the year 6am to 9pm by playing "the last cuts from Classic Rock's greatest albums".

Starting at 9pm its a commercial-free request fest with live reports from Buffalo's (and 97 Rock's) 20th Annual Ball Drop. Just like Times Square - but in Buffalo.

And on the first day of 2008 - John keeps the theme going with "by playing the first cuts from Classic Rock's greatest albums".
All-Request starting at Midnight.

is giving the airstaff New Year's Day off with a schedule full of syndicated specials - many of them encore presentations from the past year. See the lineup here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Weekend Classic Rock FM

32° - light snow at 3:15pm
Left: Looking out my front door this afternoon...

Home today. Not feeling well yesterday and sneezing evolved to fever last night. Nothing that sleep/rest won't quickly solve.

Catching up on my reading:

Fred Jacobs & Keith Cunningham. On his blog - Fred Jacobs shares an article written for R&R by Keith Cunningham on air talent and PPM. A great read here.

Fred prefaces Keith's piece:

"Clearly, there are aspects of PPM that will unfortunately lead programmers down the path of eliminating interruptions and content in the hope of creating a seamless listening environment. But at what point does consistency begat predictability which begats boredom which begats turnout?"

I couldn't agree more.
Which brings me back to comments I wrote
here about the shift in formatics at WMMS/Cleveland back in September. I can't fault anyone for trying something different and new. I get it - but (still) don't agree with it. Where are the surprises? Isn't this one of our advantages?

Dave Mason. The San Diego radio icon - most recently mornings at KOGO; prior to that PD of Kool 99.3 - in comments attached to this Paragon Media Blog piece - writes:

"Y’all can clearly see that the answer to bad radio isn’t more bad radio. It’s fixin’ what you have and making it better. Time and time again I see the answers HERE — but it must be the sound of money being poured down the drain on making broadcast radio sound just like the Ipod, Internet and Satellite recievers…without the compelling nature of any of the 3."

Yep. Thank you Dave. But wait...there's more. Mr. Mason adding:

"By the way, anyone listening to Westwood One’s coverage of the NFL over the weekend would’ve heard a lot of Sirius spots voiced by Howard Stern - telling people to turn off their radios and get the Satellite service. Yes this was on BROADCAST Radio."

Wonderful. (not). Somebody at Westwood One needs a spanking. At least some terse notes from WW1 affiliates.

Dave Mason one of the best in the business. He's also longtime host - to this day - of "The Beatles Radio Show" airing Sunday Mornings 8-10am Pacific on KGB-FM/San Diego. He knows his "Fab Four".

Dave also currently station manager of "SignOn San Diego" internet radio.

Tipped by Dave Martin:
Harve Alan - most recently with NextMedia - is now blogging with his new Harve Alan Media organization. Read Harve here.

I do believe that I met and chatted a bit with Mr. Alan on a dinner cruise in San Diego during my Capstar-AM/FM days along with Dave Lange and many other respected names.

More over the weekend. Is it "feed a cold, starve a fever" or the other way around?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Flashback! comes To TV Land

17° - clear at 7:43am

Classic Rock's FLASHBACK has come to TV.
Well - at least in spirit.

One of its production concepts (or "ear candy") appears to be influencing the present imaging campaign running on TV Land.

FLASHBACK - a syndicated longtime weekend staple of many a classic rock station for over 20 years - has been well known to combine music and sound bites together in themes. TV Land has taken this concept to their present on-air promos - combining 1980-era pop hits with TV clips - all taken from different TV Land shows - all with a common theme.

Some themes seen over the past week include "Who Can It Be Now" by Men At Work and "Breakin' The Law" by Judas Priest. My wife and I frequently watch M*A*S*H reruns on the channel...

Congrats to the original team at Radio Today Entertainment - who introduced FLASHBACK to the world via NBC's Source Radio Network back in the early 80s; and continues running to this day with original host Bill St. James via the ABC Radio Network.

Monday, December 24, 2007

John & Yoko: Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Via Wikipedia:

"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is a song by John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono.

It was recorded at Record Plant Studios in New York City in late October of 1971, with the help of producer Phil Spector.

It features soaring, heavily echoed vocals, and a sing-along chorus. The children singing in the background were from the Harlem Community Choir and are credited on the song's single.

The lyrics are based on a campaign in late 1969 by John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, who rented billboards and posters in eleven cities around the world that read: "WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko". The cities included New York, Tokyo, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, London and Toronto.

The line "War is over, if you want it, war is over, now!", as sung by the background vocals, was taken directly from the billboards.

Musicians on the original recording were:
  • Vocals: John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Harlem Community Choir
  • Guitar and bass guitar: Hugh McCracken, Chris Osborn, Teddy Irwin, Stuart Scharf
  • Keyboards, chimes and glockenspiel: Nicky Hopkins
  • Drums and sleigh bells: Jim Keltner
The record starts with a barely-audible whisper of Christmas greetings to their children: Yoko whispers "Happy Christmas, Kyoko", then John whispers "Happy Christmas, Julian".

The single was released on December 6 1971 in the US. Apple Records catalog #1842.

Paul Yeskel

Sad News. Classic Rock has lost one of the true good guys in the business.

Lee Arnold reported on his blog this morning that Paul Yeskel - founder and owner of
Aim Strategies passed away early Sunday morning at his home in New Jersey.

Paul's company specialized in the promotion of new music by long-established Classic Rock artists and ran the
Classics du Jour website - linked to by over 130 Classic Rock Radio Stations.

Anytime Paul called it was a delight - and I found just talking music with him to be a joy. If you programmed Classic Rock, chances are you talked to Paul.

I recall also that Paul was involving his company in some independent recording projects about a year ago.

Lee Arnold - who knew Paul since 1973 - writes more

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Programming

19° - light snow at 8:59pm

Here's a quick snapshot of some Christmas programming on Classic Rock stations around the country I've spotted in the last few days....

WAXQ/New York goes commercial-free - with 2-'fers starting at 5pm Christmas Eve through 5pm Christmas Day. It is sponsored by Coors Light. More here.

In Houston - KKRW celebrates a "White Christmas" by playing The Beatles' White Album all the way through - not once - but three times...and commercial-free too! Read here.

Light spot load? Use it to your advantage!

CLIQ/Toronto is doing a Top 500 song countdown starting on Christmas Day. See here. Starting on Christmas running through New Years, KZOK/Seattle will be doing a Top 1000 Countdown. More here.

More Commercial-Free:
WABX/Evansville rocks non-stop from noon Christmas Eve through noon Christmas Day.

Yuletide Sides:
WKLH/Milwaukee presents classic albums all day long starting at 10am Christmas Day.

A great layout on their website

WGRF/Buffalo has already began their holiday programming. See John Hager's programming schedule here.

KLPX/Tucson also has "96 Hours of Rockin' Holiday Programming" underway. See that schedule here.

It appears that many stations are not doing anything special beyond adding some Christmas Music to the log and giving the morning show the day off; perhaps not finding it worthwhile during the annual Arbitron break - and that's certainly misguided.

Stay tuned for New Year's Eve!

WCSX: Led Zeppelin London Memories + Xmas

WCSX's London Collection: Classic Rock WCSX/Detroit morning team JJ & Lynne broadcast live for two days during Led Zeppelin's reunion shows a few weeks back. Now they've brought back pictures, video and more - and its all posted on the web. Check it out here.

Another web feature bound to boost visitor numbers to their site!
Just sharing vacation videos and photos among friends (aka "listeners").

WCSX does Christmas on the web. Around Thanksgiving, I wrote here about WCSX's Yule Tube videos. The station has now expanded its website Christmas features features page.

Get in the spirit of the holidays with Detroit's Classic Rock here. And be sure to "Elf" yourself....(a great find WCSX!)

Sunday Morning Odds & Sods

30° - overcast at 11am.
Where did all our snow go???

Good Morning. Another week where income took priority over the blog. Lots of catching up to do....

Listening. Bob Stroud's Rock 'N Roll Roots on WDRV/Chicago. All Xmas!

Still Reading: Scott Beddome's story of WQFM/Milwaukee; its battle against crosstown AOR WLPX - and Lee Arnold's Who promotion.

Thirty Chapters of "WHOoPLA: The Greatest Rock Radio Stunt Ever" posted
here so far .

David Martin has also been reading WHOoPLA - and under "full disclosure" offers these words (here) on Lee Arnold: "In the previous century I served as valet, defense attorney and part-time concierge to the great Mr Arnold".

Explained: Lee Arnold spent time in Detroit as PD of WLLZ. And the VP of Programming for owner Doubleday was the one and only David Martin. Very cool indeed.

The last year has been great for radio books - both released and planned.

Chicago's Rick Kaempfer released his radio novel "$everance" this past year.

John Gorman
in Cleveland just released "The Buzzard" and the story of his days at WMMS.

Now Scott Beddome's "WHOoPLA". All great works!

Looking forward in early 2008 for "The Radio Gypsies" - written by programmer Jay Blackburn ("JDB") - a novel-based-on-true-events "The Radio Gypsies". Written and already at the publisher.

And now JDB is writing a follow-up book and recruiting others to contribute stories to the cause...yours truly invited to contribute.

JDB - along with DJ and engineer extraordinaire Bruce Miller Earle - was recruited by broker/consultant Art Holt back in the late 60s and 70s to travel market to market to do turnaround projects. I'll save more for later - but there's many stories waiting to be told - most for the first time.

One JDB turn-around project was WSDM Chicago; and out of that WLUP was born.
JDB describes the station as one he fell in love with.

HD Radio's New Campaign. Lots of words being written about a new campaign launched by the HD Radio Alliance. The campaign positions HD against traditional AM/FM. Yipes! That all from Fred Jacobs - one of the few ouside the Alliance to hear the commercials.

After reading Fred's comments - posted here on Thursday - I found that the link to the actual spots on the HD Radio Alliance website had become password protected. I can only assume the Alliance doesn't want anyone to hear them now. Huh?

Like Fred - I really do want to see HD Radio succeed. More consumer choice and more opportunties for programmers from the smart operators. However - I don't feel HD can succeed given the Ibiquity licensing fees.

Make the addition of HD in radios attractive to the manufacturers so it becomes "standard" - and then begin some smart marketing.

You can't sell HD like satellite radio.

Mark Ramsey sums up Fred's comments (and the reply from Alliance head Peter Ferrara) here by correctly concluding:

"The right thing for Peter and the Alliance to do isn't simply to reply to a blog post (although that's a good start), but to invite Fred and others who care about radio's future to serve on an industry board of advisors, just the way Arbitron does."

More later.

Darlene Love: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Heard this track from Phil Spector's Christmas Album this morning on WDRV/Chicago - and found this great performance from The David Letterman Show in 2005. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday Blogs

22° - scattered clouds at 10:19pm

Welcome to Wednesday.
Spent part of yesterday watching the FCC sessions via the web on proposed localism rules.

Lots of proposed rules that can impact your station and your bottom line. You can read about those elsewhere.

Added: Didn't intend to get into this - but Fred Jacobs has a great read about the possible return of the overnight jock - based on proposed FCC rules requiring 24/7 staffing. Read here.

I hope that's the case - though in smaller markets I predict some midnight sign-offs (meaning less service and no overnight EAS).

Dave Lange also writes about a the proposed rules and community service here.

HD Radio. Missing an opportunity. Fred Jacobs comments on something the HD Radio Alliance should have/could have. Read here.

Streaming & Stopsets.
David Martin touches on one of my longtime pet peeves here. There's simply no excuse for execution we'd never tolerate on our terrestrial signal. My rant published back in February here.

Greg Kihn goes national:
Best known to most of the country for his 80s hit "Jeopardy"; though I'm more partial to "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)".

Greg's been doing mornings in San Jose at Clear Channel's KUFX for many years now - and has dabbled in some syndication and voice-tracking to other markets.

Now he'll be rockin' the 7pm to Midnight daypart nationwide.
I'm expecting a voice-tracked assembled show via satellite much like Alice Cooper's nightly show. Read the release from Jones Radio here. Tipped by Tom Taylor

Randy Michaels...back? Them be the rumors all over the trades this afternoon. Running Tribune for Sam Zell.

Like him or hate him, he's a radio guy who "gets it". And I welcome him back.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dreams Come True

28° - clear at 11pm

It happened in Dallas today. After 3-1/2 years, the Eagle has landed - again.

All Access reporting:

"It's like old times again in DALLAS, as CLEAR CHANNEL has revived Rock KEGL (THE EAGLE), effective immediately. The new format replaces Spanish-language Oldies "LA PRECIOSA."

"CC/DALLAS Pres./Market Manager J.D. FREEMAN told ALL ACCESS that the EAGLE left in MAY of 2004, and we've done research since then. We found two things: 1) that there was a large base of rock fans in DALLAS; and 2)The EAGLE still had a terrific reputation with that audience. That why we decided to use the EAGLE brand."

As much as I'd like to say "we called it"
- the truth is we were just daydreaming a few weeks back:

Welcome back Eagle! See the new website here - it gets straight to the point!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Monday

12° - clear at 11:50pm

Tonight was the annual
Michigan Association of Broadcasters Christmas Party. A good time spent with a great bunch. Jodi and I leaving earlier than usual to pick up kids at sitter. And there was work for yours truly still to do tonight - and (of course) the blog!

Does Imaging Still Matter?
There's been some movement to shy away from a lot of imaging elements - perhaps an attempt to be more "iPOD-like".

My own take: there's valid arguments on either side - depending on the station, format, market and so forth. Programming is art - all very subjective.

Sean Ross writes about this topic in depth. Read Sean's words and some great follow-up comments here.

I recall Bob Pittman launching AOR WKQX/Chicago back in 1977 with a "no-hype" approach. Of course the liners Bob recorded touting "no-hype" was in fact "hype" - and was the station's imaging. It was just a different twist.

Led Zeppelin (again):
Caught up with Bob Lefsetz' blog last night - and his thoughts on the Led Zep reunion shows last week:

"I don’t buy this hogwash that it’s a one-off. All my sources tell me there’s going to be a tour. No one will CONFIRM a tour, but it’s a well-known fact that they’re going to go on the road."

Read Bob's complete piece

More R&R Hall of Fame: Fred Jacobs and I had to be thinking the same thing. I commented on one new inductee into the Cleveland institution. Fred has his take here.

And thanks - to Dave Martin. Appreciate the kind note tonight.

Bedtime for Bonzo. More soon.