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This week, it hit me! What have I never heard on the radio? Before I explain, I should probably let you know that I grew up in a house with 4 sisters… meaning my childhood was a musical cocktail of boy bands and pop sensations.
Back to my point, what haven’t I heard on the radio? To understand what I mean, you should know that there are many different types of radio formats. From ‘Active Rock’ and ‘Contemporary Hit Radio’ to ‘Adult Album Alternative’ and ‘Top 40’, these formats define the station’s musical identity, which ultimately defines their audience. I currently work at a ‘Hot AC’ station. Most ‘Hot AC’ stations play commercial pop and rock music released within the last fifteen to twenty years and focus on appealing to general listeners rather than people who are solely interested in hearing only current releases.
Alright, so why am I giving you a lesson on radio formats? Basically, I discovered a format that hasn’t been tapped yet. When I was 9 years old (1999 to be exact), my older sisters (like most teenage girls at the time) were crazy about the current boy bands and pop idols. I’m talking about Backstreet Boys, Nsync, Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees, Britney Spears and TLC (trust me just wait, I’ll name more later). My point is that no radio station (that I know of) has committed their format to this style. Why? Have they forgotten that these groups dominated Top 40 radio for almost 7 years (1997 to about 2003)?! It feels to me that some programmers haven’t considered creating a new format like this due solely to the fact that radio was so overly saturated with these bands back-in-the-day, so they assume listeners are still sick of it. Plain and simple, who cares what you ‘assume’? Musical taste is subjective. Instead of studying your ‘market research’ revealing how huge conglomerations feel about ‘what the listener really wants’, how about using some common sense! You can’t deny that these bands absolutely owned the airwaves in the late 90s and early 2000s. Mr. Radio Exec, remember turning on the radio in 1999? Remember how listeners used to call and request songs all the time?! Remember how you used to make a lot of money? Hmm… seems like some things just kinda work. My sidetracked point here is… stop relying on your ‘research’ and start relying on your gut. The second you choose to do that, you’ll finally start genuinely enjoying your job.
So Andrew, how would this new station sound? Well, thanks for asking, imaginary man. Remember the huge hits, including ‘one-hit-wonders’ from these few years? That’s it! Only play those hits. Well Andrew, isn’t this a small selection of music? Hmmm, thank you again for asking, imaginary gentleman! I consider a song a ‘hit’ if it makes it to #40 (or below) on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles chart. Obviously, we still have some playable ‘break out hits’ that charted much lower BUT right now let’s just say that each year we have AT LEAST 40 hits to play with. Seven years multiplied by 40 songs per year = 280 songs. Plenty of songs for a well balanced rotation. All I’m imagining here is a format that plays all that crazy hooky, crazy poppy, teen madness music. I would name more bands, but I’ve created an iTunes playlist (below) to help illustrate my point. Every single song on that playlist is a hit. For people above the age of 20, every single song on that playlist is a hit because it recalls memories of their adolescence. This is the sole reason that this format would absolutely succeed. Unfortunately, the majority of music-based radio stations are glorified jukeboxes. No personality combined with a selection of music that sounds exactly the same as each similar format around the country. The minute you inspire an emotion by helping the listener recall fond memories is the minute you develop a personal relationship with that listener. That personal relationship equals success.
Check out the playlist below and let me know in the comments section how you feel about it.