Mark Connelly markwa1ion@aol.com
Wed Aug 21 11:26:58 EDT 2013

It sounds as though listeners don't really want anything from music radio that they couldn't get from a reasonably stocked iPod: little / no DJ talk, few surprise songs, etc.

If listening is so passive, how could ads be expected to draw a listener's attention rather than getting a quick button push / dial twist as the response?

When DJ's do talk now, it's often the silly morning stuff which is loaded more with celebrity gossip / Hollywood pratfall stories than any news, traffic, weather, or business the listener really needs.  Apparently it's OK to reduce the amount of music selections during morning drive so we can all figure out what the Kardashians or Lindsey Lohan are up to.

WBZ still reigns supreme for me when I'm taking a long drive and need to know what's really going on.

The problem of designing a "50+" music station is that the main "river" of Top 40 that the majority of listeners followed started breaking off into various "streams" around 1965 when both the Beatles and Bob Dylan set Album Rock in motion.  By the late '60s there were two distinct radio audiences in high schools and colleges.  We-play-most-anything Top 40 even started branching off several ways itself.  John H. Garabedian and Cousin Duffy on WMEX incorporated at least a few of the more adventurous album-rock sounds that were so big on the WBCN-FM side while not straying too much.  Meanwhile WRKO and WVBF were going lighter with tons of bubblegum and material along the lines of Osmonds, Carpenters, Poppy Family, and the like.

Within the same age group, roughly those born in the 1948-1958 range, there were widely divergent sets of musical tastes by the mid to late '70s.  This makes setting up a radio format difficult.  Even if everyone started out listening to the same top 40 stuff on WMEX in the late '50s and early '60s, these people were "all over the map" by 1978 or so.  If a stations wants to put '50s / early '60s "traditional oldies" in a seniors-oriented format, the problem is always going to be "What newer music (meaning '70s and later) goes with that?"

It seems that most programmers think that disco / soft-pop is the track these oldies listeners had adopted by the late '70s / early '80s.  You will hear an Elvis or Roy Orbison oldie and then Captain & Tennille or Air Supply or Barry Manilow or KC & the Sunshine Band.  Maybe that really is where some of that audience was.

But weren't just as many of those '50s / early '60s top 40 aficionados on a harder rock track by their college / early work lives in the '70s?

Wouldn't Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley sound just as good in a mix with Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Thorogood, Allman Bros., ZZ Top, and Stevie Ray Vaughn as with the Bee Gees, Air Supply, and Christopher Cross (the stuff "oldies people" / baby-boomers were "supposed" to have migrated to by 1980)?

At least on my iPod backyard BBQ mixes I can throw the more kicked-up '50s stuff in with '60s blues-rock, '70s southern rock, splashes of old and new country, '80s/'90s Springsteen and Mellencamp, etc., and it all sounds great.  No wimped-out late '70s soft-rock to put people to sleep.

Knowing that no one station could do it all for a 50+ audience, my idea would be to look for holes in the currently available formats.  It is a given that listeners are not going to stick with one station all day.  If you can give them something substantially different from what is already available, you might grab at least a decent sized slice of the total pie.

I don't think 98.7 is really there yet.  If they would at least do an oldies (1954-1969) block maybe on a Saturday night like WATD and a big-band / crooners block maybe on Sunday night, that would be a step in the right direction.  A request show could be cool too, along with one or more personality DJ's.

The "what to do with the '70s and later?" issue is still going to be tricky for the split-audience reasons enumerated above.  Since soft rock is already well covered by 99.1 and 104.7 and hard rock by 102.9, I guess the idea might be to reach into both formats in a way that is cleverly engineered to avoid shock segues.  After all, our old beloved Top 40's played both hard and soft - sometimes even one butted up against the other.  Perhaps because there was enough of a space between the songs with DJ patter, the effect wasn't as jarring as a direct segue you'd get on a computer run station today.

I do wish WKFY success.  I just think that some tweaks might be in order.  Maybe these can even be sneaked in without making "Jane Whitebread" tune out in favor of something else on her weekly trip to the Harwich Stop & Shop.

Mark Connelly
South Yarmouth, MA

-----Original Message-----
From: Garrett Wollman <wollman@bimajority.org>
To: Mark Connelly <markwa1ion@aol.com>
Cc: boston-radio-interest <boston-radio-interest@lists.BostonRadio.org>
Sent: Wed, Aug 21, 2013 2:22 am
Subject: Re: WKFY

<<On Wed, 21 Aug 2013 00:49:14 -0400 (EDT), Mark Connelly <markwa1ion@aol.com> 

> DJ's had personality whether it was MoR Carl DeSuze and Jess Cain or
> rockers like Laquidara, Sartori, and Garabedian.  There was wit in
> the talk and genuine interest in the music.  I don't see why a
> natural desire for mentally-engaging radio, whether in a music or a
> talk format, would be considered snobbery.

And today, unlike forty years ago, we have actual market research that
demonstrates that *this is not what the majority of listeners want*.
(Or if they do want that, they are listening to noncommercial radio of
various sorts already, and probably not reachable by any commercial
station.)  Not only that, we have minute-by-minute PPM records that
can actually show the listeners tuning out when an unfamiliar song or
a mic set or a stop set starts.



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